Well, it’s that time.
The arguments have been made. The mud has been slung. Almost all the votes have been cast.
So who wins and who loses? Post your predictions below. Here are mine:
On the statewide ticket, I think Republicans sweep. Democrats clearly had an opportunity when Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger took a month off for alcohol rehab, but they didn’t do anything with it, communicating (I guess) that they didn’t really have any confidence in their candidate Jason Astrup. They also seemed to have an opportunity to take down Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring who was weakened by a scandal involving some inappropriate comments to female staff, as well as an intraparty challenge for the NDGOP nomination. Democrats even put their best possible candidate forward in Ryan Taylor who, after saying he wouldn’t run, was drawn into the race by Goehring’s struggles.
Still, I don’t think Taylor has done enough, and I think political observers in the state may be giving him a bit too much credit as a candidate. It’ll be close, but I think Goehring pulls it out.
The rest of the Republican statewide ticket is probably safe.
It’s tough to handicap legislative races because they’re’e a) intensely local and b) usually settled by very slim vote margins. It’s safe to say that Republicans are going to come away from election night still holding huge majorities in Bismarck, but Democrats have some opportunities for some symbolic victories.
They’ve put a huge amount of money into the District 35 and District 41 races.
In District 35, Republicans there sound pretty confident that Senator Margaret Sitte can hold on in the face of a mountain of liberal money put into Democrat Erin Oban’s race.
In District 41, I think House Majority Leader Al Carlson may be vulnerable. His House running mate, Rep. Bette Grande, certainly is. Taking down Sitte and/or taking down Carlson would give Democrats some much-needed momentum heading into the legislative session. But Sitte holding on despite Democrats spending more to beat her than they spent on most of the statewide races would be a stinging defeat.
Here’s what I think will happen, though not necessarily what I want to happen.
Measure 1, I’m sorry to say, is probably going to fail. The opposition has done a very good job of manufacturing doubt about the measure even among pro-life Republicans and, frankly, I think North Dakotans are so utterly worn out on the abortion issue that there may be some backlash voting.
Measure 2 will pass because a) nobody is opposing it b) there’s a lot of money supporting it and c) I think most voters are ok with taking a tax off the table even if it doesn’t currently exist.
Measure 3 will fail because the legislature put it on the ballot and then let it dangle there, doing almost nothing to support it. Which is a shame. Our decadent, inept university system will no doubt see its failure as a rubber stamp for what they’re doing.
Measure 4 will probably fail because it’s hard to convince people that legislating at the ballot box is a bad way to create public policy.
Measure 5 will not only go down in flames but has created for the conservation groups backing it a backlash they’re going to be living with for years to come.
Measure 6 I think has a small chance of winning because a) the opposition is divorce lawyers b) the proponents have been very organized and c) I think the public perceives some real injustice in the family law system.
Measure 7 I think will lose narrowly, because North Dakota still has a very strong streak of populism which includes a serious mistrust of corporations. Which is ironic, given that the existing pharmacy law is basically protecting a small cabal of very rich pharmacists who don’t want to compete.
Measure 8 will pass in a landslide. Because parents want this. School boards have been saying “local control,” but if they’d been more attentive to their constituencies in years past and moved in this direction, they wouldn’t be about to lose some of that local control on the ballot. I’m opposed to Measure 8, but I do see some justice in unresponsive local leaders getting big-footed at the ballot box.
What are your predictions?