Arizona’s Ballot Initiatives Might Be A Bigger Draw For Liberal Voters Than The Presidential Race

By Scott Bourque
Published: Sunday, September 13, 2020 - 12:53pm
Updated: Monday, September 14, 2020 - 1:05pm

sign with hand drawn teacher
Christina Estes/KJZZ
After the Arizona Supreme Court rejected the "Invest in Education" petition language in 2018, the initiative is back.

President Donald Trump has traditionally had one big advantage over Joe Biden when it comes to winning votes: voter enthusiasm. 

Some left-leaning voters are not especially excited about Joe Biden. But they might be more excited about Arizona’s two ballot initiatives, which could be a bigger draw for some voters than the presidential election. 

Northern Arizona University political scientist Fred Solop says voters unenthusiastic about the presidential election could still show up in support of these initiatives. They might then be more likely to fill in the bubble for Democrats up and down the ballot.

“The Trump voters are very enthusiastic about their candidate. The Biden voters are not as enthusiastic,” Solop said. “If it’s just Biden-Trump, a lot of those Biden supporters are going to sit out the election. They’re not excited about it. With something else on the ballot to raise their excitement, this can affect the turnout dynamic in Arizona.”

Both of these initiatives appeal to left-leaning and progressive voters alike, and their potential impact on the community is often a bigger draw than a federal election.

“People see (these initiatives) as very materially in their interests, it’s very local,” Solop said. “There’s a huge base of support which may turnout.”

Proposition 207, known as the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act” would legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and up. Revenue would be distributed to community college districts, public safety budgets, the state’s Highway User Revenue fund, and a new Justice Reinvestment Fund. Some old marijuana convictions would be eligible for expungement.

Proposition 208, known as “Invest In Ed” would impose an additional 3.5% income tax (on top of the state’s existing 4.5% income tax) on income above $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples). The revenue would go to teacher salaries, mentoring and retention programs, and to the Arizona Teacher’s Academy.

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