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Key Takeaways from the 2018 Midterm Elections by Issue

We looked at the winners in 43 crucial swing districts in the House and 8 states in the Senate to extrapolate some predictions on how the issues will be addressed by Congress in the next two years. In some cases, there was a strong majority of a stance on a particular issue among the candidates who won.

We also followed the state-level ballot initiatives. These results give insight into how voters in different parts of the country feel about issues as wide-ranging as Medicaid and renewable energy.

ON THE ISSUES

Drug Pricing
Federal Level

  • With Democratic control of the House, drug pricing will be one of the first legislative priorities
  • Democrats will also look to expand Medicare and Medicaid, finding ways to allow Americans to buy cheaper prescription drugs

Energy
State Level

  • Floridians passed an initiative that prohibits drilling for oil and natural gas in all state-owned waters between the mean high water line and the state’s outermost boundaries.
  • Washington state voters agreed to keep expanding funding for oil spill response and taxes on crude oil and petroleum. The funding will amount to $13 million over ten years.
  • Arizona rejected a ballot measure that would have pushed electric utility companies to acquire a higher percentage of electricity from renewable sources. It aimed to reach 50% by 2030.
  • In Nevada, voters struck down an initiative that would have created and open and competitive retail electric market, which would have reduced consumer costs.
  • The state of Colorado failed to pass an amendment that would have required new oil and gas development to be at least 2,500 feet from occupied structures, water sources and vulnerable areas.

Education
Federal Level

  • Senate races in Florida and Arizona are still too close to call. Of the other 6 tight Senate races we tracked, all but one of the winners support charter schools.
  • The opposite outcome happened in the House. Winners from 29 of the 43 swing districts do not support charter schools, while the other 14 support them. With the exception of Democrat Elissa Slotkin from Michigan’s 8th district, who supports charter schools, the winners fall along party lines on this issue. With Democrats in the majority, charter school advocates may be facing an uphill battle at the federal level in 2019.

State Level

  • Florida voters passed a ballot measure to provide higher education (college and university) benefits to first responders and survivors of military members.
  • New Jersey approved an initiative to borrow $500 million for educational infrastructure at K-12 schools, county colleges and technical schools.
  • Voters in Rhode Island authorized the issuance of a bond for $250 million to provide funding for the construction of new public schools and renovations of existing ones.
  • The state of Arizona rejected an initiative that would have gradually increase the share of K-12 students eligible to receive empowerment scholarships

Environment
Federal Level

  • In the House, winners of swing districts overwhelmingly support environmental protections almost three to one. This majority includes three Republican winners from districts in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Florida.
  • Less than 25 percent of House swing district  winners oppose furthering environmental protections—and they are all Republicans.

State Level

  • North Carolinians voted to amend the constitution to protect the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.
  • Rhode Islanders authorized the issuance of a $47.3 million bond for environmental and recreational purposes.
  • The state of Alaska rejected an initiative to protect wild salmon and fish wildlife habitat.
  • Californians rejected an initiative to provide more funding for water supply and quality, fish wildlife, water conveyance and groundwater sustainability.
  • Montana rejected an initiative that would have limited permits for new hard rock mining.

Gun Control
Federal Level

  • Out of the winners of six swing states in the Senate, support for gun control is split down the middle. Senators elected from Nevada, Missouri, and Florida support gun control, while the winners in Texas, Indiana, and Tennessee do not.

State Level

  • The state of Washington approved increases on background checks, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for the sale and delivery of semi-automatic assault rifles.

Healthcare
Federal Level

  • 13 winners in House swing districts support repealing the Affordable Care Act, and all of them are Republican.
  • 30 of the winners in House swing districts support the ACA and they are all Democrats.
  • In the Senate, we saw the complete opposite trend. The winning Senate candidates in Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida all support the initiative to repeal the ACA. Out of the states that have been called to date, Nevada is only swing state that elected a Senator who supports the ACA, Jacky Rosen.
  • Due to the opposite majorities in the House and Senate, and the strong party alignment on the issue of the ACA, health care will continue to be a highly partisan issue in 2019.

State Level

  • Nevada will no longer apply sales tax and use tax on durable medical equipment, oxygen delivery equipment, and mobility-enhancing equipment prescribed for human use.
  • Voters in Maine did not approve a bill that would have established a Universal Home Care Program for people with disabilities and people 65 years or older.

Medicaid
State Level

  • In Oregon voters upheld taxes on healthcare insurance to provide funding for Medicaid expansion.
  • Three states, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, voted to expand Medicaid to individuals under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level or below. Additionally, Utah decided to partially fund Medicaid expansion with an increase on their sales tax from 4.7 percent to 4.85 percent.
  • The state of Montana opposed the expansion of Medicaid and failed to pass an initiative which would have raised taxes on tobacco products to fund the expansion.

Immigration
Federal Level

  • Comprehensive immigration reform is a sensitive topic in many Congressional districts across the country. Of the candidates who won the swing districts, more than half do not support comprehensive immigration reform, and many of them include Democrats.
  • Only 13 of the winners in swing districts are in full support of measures like making a path to citizenship for undocumented residents and fully support DACA.
  • Democrats in moderate states are going to tread carefully with how they approach immigration. It’s unlikely a strong left-leaning agenda will move forward even with a Democrat majority.
  • In the Senate, all eight candidates in swing districts support building a war on the border with Mexico.

State Level

  • Oregon pushed state legislation toward the creation of a “sanctuary state” as it rejected an initiative which would expand estate and local law enforcement resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

Marijuana
Federal Level

  • A big night for Cannabis advocates, with Utah and Missouri approving use of medical marijuana, and Michigan legalizing the use of recreational marijuana.

State Level

  • Oklahoma, Utah and Missouri all  passed medical marijuana initiatives. Notably, Missouri will spend the four percent tax revenue collected from marijuana sales on healthcare services for veterans.
  • In Michigan, voters legalize the recreational use of marijuana for individuals 21 and older and enacted taxes on sales.
  • North Dakota voted against an initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
  • Ohio voters rejected an initiative that would have reduced penalties for crimes related to obtaining, possessing, and using illegal drugs.

Infrastructure
Federal Level

  • Democrats and Republicans can find some common ground with infrastructure. Agreement on an infrastructure bill could boost construction equipment and transportation companies.
  • Both parties agree on spending increases for major infrastructure projects.

State Level

  • Californians approved a $1.5 billion bond for the construction, expansion, renovation and equipment of children’s hospitals across the state.
  • In Maine, citizens voted to issue a $106 million bond to enhance statewide transportation infrastructure such as highways, bridges, piers, harbors, marine, rail and aviation transportation, port equipment and bicycle and pedestrian trails. Additionally, a $30 million bond was approved to improve water quality, and support the planning and construction of wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Missouri rejected an increase in motor fuel tax.
  • Voters in Colorado did not approve bonds to fund highway projects.

Tariffs

  • Republicans who championed President Trump’s tariff policies won races in rural America, where many believed farmers were being negatively impacted by the president’s trade war.
  • Democratic Senate contenders railed against Trump’s tariffs during the campaign

Transportation
State Level

  • California passed an initiative that prevents revenues generated by transportation funding law to be diverted for other purposes. Californians also voted to reject a bill that would reduce ongoing revenues of $5.1 billion, which will pay for highway and road maintenance and repairs.
  • In New Mexico, voters approved the issuance of bonds in the amount of $6.1 million to fund the purchases of school busses.
  • Connecticut voters decided to create a constitutional protection for state transportation funding, which is currently established only in the Connecticut General Status.

Abortion
State Level

  • In Alabama, an amendment that makes it state policy to “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life” passed. This amendment also states that no constitutional provision can provide the right to an abortion or require the public funding of abortions.
  • West Virginians passed an amendment which changes the language in the state constitution to “nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
  • Voters in Oregon rejected an initiative that would have prohibited public funds from being spent on abortion.

Labor/Minimum Wage
State Level

  • Arkansas approved to raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2021. Missouri, in the same fashion, approved an annual increase to reach $12 an hour by 2023, following adjustments based on CPI thereafter.
  • Californians approved to require private-sector emergency ambulances employees to remain on-call during work breaks
  • Voters in the state of Missouri failed to pass a bill which would prohibit as a condition of employment the forced membership in a labor organization (union) or force the payment of dues to it.

Civil Rights
State Level

  • Colorado citizens voted to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances.
  • Georgians voted to amend their constitution allowing the assertion of certain rights for victims of crimes in the judicial process.
  • In New Hampshire, a constitutional amendment providing that taxpayers have standing to bring actions against the government was approved. Voters approved to establish that, “[...] there is a natural, essential and inherent right to live free of government intrusion.”
  • Alabama approved an initiative that will allow certain religious rights and liberties, including the allowance to display the ten commandments on state property and property owned or administered by a public school of public body.

Veterans Affairs
State Level

  • Floridians voted to retain the department of veterans affairs
  • Virginia voters approved an amendment which allows surviving spouses to move to a new principal place of residence that is own by the surviving spouse and still claim the tax exemption currency provided

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