Jun 12, 2020

FRIDAY EDITION: Some news about you.

FRIDAY EDITION: Some news about you.

The results of the Tangle poll and some interesting state ballot measures.

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Today’s read: 7 minutes.

The Tangle poll results, a quick note about yesterday and some interesting ballot measures across the United States. By the way, if you’re not following us on Instagram — check it out:

Special edition.

Yesterday, several readers wrote in to let me know that the newsletter landed in their promotions or junk folder. If you didn’t see the email come in, you can search “Tangle” in your inbox to find it. The newsletter was about the debate over Confederate monuments — you can also read it by clicking here.

Sometimes, newsletter delivery can be funky. There’s not much I can do to get around certain email filters. But you can mark this email as important or star it, which reduces the likelihood it lands in your junk or promotions folders.

Since the newsletter was a little weird yesterday, I’m sending today’s Friday issue (which usually goes to paying subscribers only) to everyone. Friday editions are usually in a different format, a bit more personal, or are original content like fully-transcribed interviews. To receive them regularly, you can subscribe below.

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Poll results.

750 Tangle readers took the poll over the last three days. The results were some of the most interesting I’ve seen in a Tangle poll yet.

Before this week’s newsletter about the “defund the police movement,” 56.5% of Tangle readers said they had not yet formed an opinion or, generally speaking, did not support calls to defund the police. After this week’s newsletter about the “defund the police” movement, 68.5% of Tangle readers said they were generally supportive of calls to defund the police. That’s some of the biggest movement on an issue I’ve seen. This compares to just 34% of Americans nationally who support calls to “defund the police,” and 64% of Americans who oppose it, according to a recent ABC/Ipsos poll.

31.5% of Tangle readers said they still hadn’t formed an opinion and/or were generally not supportive of calls to defund the police.

An even 75% of Tangle readers said they wear a mask or face covering “most of the time” or “always” when they leave the house. 3.5% of Tangle readers said they never wear a mask. 32.8% of Tangle readers said they were less concerned about the health impacts of COVID-19 than they were a month ago, and 56% said their concern level was about the same. 24.9% of readers said they were more concerned about the economic impacts of COVID-19 than they were a month ago, compared to just 17.6% who said they were less concerned.

In the last two weeks, 29.8% of Tangle readers said they had attended a vigil, march or demonstration related to the death of George Floyd. That compares to an Axios poll that found just 2% of Americans had attended a George Floyd protest themselves.

What’s fascinating about these insights is where and how they differ from polls of Americans more generally. The involvement in George Floyd demonstrations and the support for the “defund the police” movement seems to be much stronger amongst Tangle readers than the American public at large. However, the data about masks is not unlike other polls of Americans, generally speaking.

I know from previous polls that my readership skews left — about 66% of Tangle readers are registered Democrats and the rest are a mix of Republicans, Independents, no party affiliation and Libertarians. This has probably changed in recent months with a wave of new subscribers, but it’s still fascinating to line it up with the general public.

Another takeaway from this poll is that a large percentage of the readers who responded to the poll are probably from more urban areas, where protests were prominent across the U.S. Less than 20% of the people who are reading Tangle on a daily basis took the poll, so it’s not entirely clear to me how representative it is of the Tangle readership at large — but it’s certainly interesting!

Votes near you.

With the 2020 elections coming in hot, most people have been obsessing over their impact on the federal government. Donald Trump or Joe Biden? Will Democrats control the House, the Senate, or both? Who will Biden pick as his Vice President? What will become the major campaign issues? Police reform? COVID-19?

These are all big, important questions I’ll be covering over the next few months. But what far fewer people are talking about are all the big, important measures that are more likely to change your life — and how they will impact folks on the state level.

A few weeks ago, a Tangle reader named Jonah (who has contributed some maps to the newsletter) sent me a list of all the fascinating ballot measures being voted on across the U.S. I was so impressed that I decided to work on fleshing the list out with him and turning it into this edition of the newsletter. He did almost all of the research, and I’ve just tried to double-check his work (our main source was Ballotpedia), then thread it together into a coherent narrative.

One of the biggest electoral themes is marijuana. New Jersey will be voting on the legalization of recreational marijuana, with hopes that revenue from the sales tax can fill the massive budget shortfall caused by COVID-19. The measure does not yet include a designated recipient of those taxes.

In Mississippi, voters are first going to be asked if they want medical marijuana to be legal, then will be asked whether it should be restricted solely to terminally ill patients or open for people who have treatable ailments.

South Dakota is one of just two states to not decriminalize or legalize any form of marijuana, but the 2020 election could catapult them to the front of the pack in terms of legalization. First, they’ll vote on a measure establishing a medical marijuana program, then an entirely separate measure to fully legalize recreational marijuana will be voted on. If the latter passes, they’ll jump to become one of the most marijuana-friendly states in the U.S.

The environment is up in a big way, too. Nevada will vote on a bill that requires 50% of their electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. New York has a bill to allot $3 billion toward the environment — $1 billion for flood risk reduction and shoreline restoration, $700 million to fight climate change with green building programs, $550 million for land conservation and $550 million for wastewater infrastructure. Once seen as a slam dunk, this ballot measure is expected to be hotly contested because of the COVID-19 budget shortfall.

Alaska will vote to increase the tax on oil production along its northern coast and Colorado is going to vote on whether or not to introduce the Grey Wolf to public lands. The famous reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park helped revitalize the park, and wolves reintroduced across Wyoming have already been expanding towards Colorado anyway.

Voting will change after 2020, too. Virginia is going to establish a bipartisan redistricting commission it hopes will stop gerrymandering. The aim is to limit Republican gerrymandering of the past, but it’s also to ensure Democrats don’t return the favor in kind now that they control the state. Missouri implemented an independent, nonpartisan redistricting committee in 2018, but now the Republican-led state legislature is trying to undo it with a new ballot measure that allows the Governor (a Republican) to appoint the members of the committee.

Alaska has a ballot measure to institute ranked voting and will replace partisan primaries with a system where voters can pick their top four choices for state and Congressional offices in order of preference.

One of the most fascinating ballot measures in America is in Colorado, where voters are casting a ballot to ratify a bill passed by the legislature that would enter the state into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This compact forces the state's electors to vote for the presidential candidate that wins the national popular vote, regardless of how Coloradans voted. The pact doesn't come into effect until enough states enact the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, so it has no immediate impact. But, long term, it could effectively help lay the groundwork for eliminating the electoral college.

Voters in Arkansas are trying to reverse a 2014 ballot measure that drastically loosened the term limits of their state legislators. Florida Republicans have added a ballot measure about ballot measures. The law would make it so that future ballot measures would need to pass twice before coming into effect. The measure is a response to Amendment 4, which was passed in 2018 and allowed felons who have completed their sentences to vote, sparking what many on the left see as a racist backlash to undo it.

In Utah, voters will decide whether to ratify a recently passed bill that will replace all gendered language in their state constitution with gender-neutral language. In Nevada, voters will have an opportunity to rescind an amendment — passed 18 years ago — that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment was rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on gay marriage, but it could be a symbolic step forward for equality.

Nebraska and Utah are both going to vote on removing language from their constitutions that allow slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. These measures came onto their ballot after Colorado successfully passed a similar bill in 2018. The 13th Amendment of the Consitution allows slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime, but there is a powerful movement to abolish these laws.

California is voting to replace the cash bail system, one of the most controversial criminal justice issues in America. Cash bail has been blamed for keeping the poor locked in prison when the wealthy can pay their way out, instead of assessing a suspect’s risk based on the alleged crime they committed.

Kentucky is voting on the controversial Marsy’s Law, which establishes certain rights for victims of crimes. The law is framed as giving “co-equal” rights to victims, like notifications of court proceedings, but has been heavily criticized by the ACLU, which says the “constitution vigorously protects the accused, not because the law values defendants more than victims, but because it values protecting individuals from excessive government power.”

Florida's minimum wage is currently $8.56 per hour, but a ballot measure there would increase it to $10.00 on September 30, 2021, and increase it by another dollar each year until it reaches $15.00 on September 30, 2026. Florida political analysts expect voters re-enfranchised by Amendment 4 to help push this ballot over the top, as it would disproportionately impact their wage prospects.

Guns and abortion are also up for votes. A measure in Colorado would ban abortions after 22 weeks of gestation. Courts in 10 states have ruled that minor details in state constitutions allow for abortions, so some states are responding by passing amendments clarifying that their states do not allow abortions. Louisiana, for example, has a measure to clarify their anti-abortion stance. None of this will have an immediate impact, as Roe vs. Wade still legalizes abortion nationally, but conservative states are preparing for the prospect that Roe vs. Wade is struck down by the now conservative-leaning Supreme Court.

Montana has a measure on the ballot to prevent municipalities from regulating the carrying of permitted concealed weapons, taking power away from local governments in favor of the state. In Oregon, there is a vote to increase the tax on cigarettes by 250% and establish a 65% tax on e-cigarettes, with all proceeds going to the Oregon Health Authority.

These are also just the ballot measures that have been agreed to. All across the U.S., there are ballot measures that have been proposed by citizens or legislators but are yet to be approved and put on the ballot. Some of those potential ballot measures are noteworthy, too.

In Arizona, citizens proposed a measure to eliminate red light and speeding cameras. There’s also a proposal to legalize all drugs. Arkansas has a potential ballot measure to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Hawaii has a potential ballot to lower the voting age to 16. Idaho has a potential ballot to increase the minimum wage to $12, incrementally, by 2024. Maine has a potential ballot measure to repeal ranked choice voting. And, finally, North Carolina has a potential ballot measure to prohibit state property taxes.

Have a ballot measure in your state we should know about? Write in by responding to this email and let me know.

Cory Booker.

Tangle subscriber and Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jonathan Tamari sent me a story he wrote about Cory Booker this morning. The piece dives into Booker’s political career fighting for criminal justice reform, his failed run for president and how issues he tried to make the focus of his campaign are now suddenly the center of the national conversation. It’s worth a read. Click.

Some news.

  1. The Republican led Senate Armed Services Committee voted to require the Department of Defense to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, setting up a potential clash with President Trump, who has vowed to never change the names of bases. You can read Tangle’s coverage of this debate here.
  2. Some U.S. states where COVID-19 was not a major issue are now seeing spikes in hospitalizations, causing experts to fear that loosening restrictions are leading to major outbreaks of the virus. The spikes have come roughly a month after stay-at-home orders were lifted, which is about the time epidemiologists warned increased hospitalizations would begin. The spikes have been especially prominent in Arizona, Texas and Utah.
  3. In a memoir set to be released June 23rd, which the White House tried to delay, former national security adviser John Bolton will “offer multiple revelations about President Trump’s conduct in office,” including direct quotes, Axios reports. Bolton reportedly claims that Trump’s misconduct goes “beyond Ukraine,” including questionable dealings with other countries.
  4. President Trump’s first campaign rally will be held on June 19th in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The president was criticized for scheduling the rally on Juneteenth, a day that marks the end of slavery, and for choosing  Tulsa, which was the site of one of the worst race massacres in U.S. history. People requesting tickets were prompted to sign a disclaimer that Trump was not liable for illness or injury related to the contraction of COVID-19.
  5. Politico ran a fascinating profile of “the city that really did abolish the police,” Camden, NJ. Camden has been a focus of reformers in recent weeks because it executed a re-building of its police force in a way many are calling for now. However, it’s worth noting that Camden did not totally “defund” or “abolish” the police force. They tore it down and then re-built a new, larger police force entirely — and reduced crime while improving community relations along the way.
  6. The Seattle police chief said protesters occupying Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood have tripled the 911 response time for violent crimes like rapes and robberies in the area. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have also accused the protesters, who orchestrated a peaceful takeover of a 6-block radius where they say no police are allowed, of “hijacking” the conversation,
  7. North Korea vowed to boost its nuclear programs again this morning, saying diplomacy with the United States has “failed.” “Even a slim ray of optimism for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula has faded away into a dark nightmare,” the country’s foreign minister, Ri Son-Gwon, said.

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