The consulting world has more than just Donald Trump’s successful campaign to consider after Tuesday’s voting. There were also a host of ballot measures from Washington State to California to Maine with implications for the industry.
In California, where initiatives are big business, there were 17 measures on the ballot this cycle. Those drew $473 million in contributions – a state record. But it’s one that might have been broken in a coming cycle, had one measure on the ballot passed Nov. 8.
Billed as an infrastructure funding measure, the California Voter Approval Requirement for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion initiative, or Prop 53, could have metastasized the number of measures taken to voters each cycle. But after strong opposition from the state’s top Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, it was defeated.
Public financing of campaigns was also on some ballots Tuesday. In Washington State voters said no to public financing campaigns through a repealed sales tax exemption for out-of-state visitors, even though a public funding program was approved by Seattle voters in 2015.
In South Dakota voters did approve public financing through a similar system as Seattle’s, which allows voters to award two $50 “democracy credits” to a campaign. That could begin to change how candidates fundraise in the near future.
Meanwhile, a series of recreational and medicinal marijuana legalization passed Tuesday. California voted to legalize pot, as did Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada, while Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota passed ballot initiatives legalizing medical marijuana. Arizona was the only setback Tuesday for pot advocates, but that could just mean more business for the consultants and staffers who are plying their trade in the pot initiative business.
The same could be said for minimum-wage campaigns, who successfully raised base hourly pay in Maine, Arizona, Colorado and Washington. (A campaign in South Dakota defeated a question of lowering that state's hourly minimum for those under 18.) That's another plebiscite campaign that could spread in 2018.
Some initiatives also changed how voters cast their ballots, which could open up new markets for out-of-state consultants. For instance, Maine approved a ranked-choice voting system, which means the next time voters head to the polls they’ll be picking their statewide and congressional candidates in order of preference.
It works like this: “[V]oters rank five candidates from 1 to 5 on their ballots. Election officials then eliminate the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes and immediately re-assign those voters to their second-choice candidate. The process repeats until one candidate is favored over the remaining alternatives by a majority of voters.”
This could open up the Maine market for some California consultants. In some cities in the Bay Area, ranked choice voting (RCV) has been put to practice. Now those with experience with it can take their expertise cross country.