Jeffrey A. Miron
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Jeffrey A. Miron is senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University and senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Miron is the author of "Libertarianism, from A to Z." The opinions in this blog are solely those of Jeffrey A. Miron.
California voters have just rejected Proposition 19, the ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana under state law. Where did Prop 19 go wrong?
Prop 19 failed in part because many proponents emphasized the wrong arguments for legalization. Many advocates promised major benefits to California's budget because of reduced expenditure on marijuana prohibition and increased revenue from marijuana taxation. Other supporters claimed that Mexican drug violence would fall substantially.
Both claims were overblown. The budgetary benefits, while not insignificant, would have been small compared with California's fiscal mess. Mexican drug violence is mainly associated with the cocaine and methamphetamine trades, as well as from marijuana traffic to other states.
Many voters sensed that Prop 19 supporters were overreaching, and this made them suspicious of all the arguments in its favor. Common sense should have recognized that since marijuana was close to legal already, Prop 19 would not have had dramatic effects.
Prop 19 failed also because it overreached. One feature attempted to protect the "rights" of employees who get fired or disciplined for using marijuana, including a provision that employers could only discipline marijuana use that "actually impairs job performance." That is a much higher bar than required by current policy.
Editor's note: The hotly contested campaign for the midterm elections is over. As the results come in, CNN's political contributors share their quick thoughts on what's making news.
Avlon: A victory for checks and balances
So far, the election isn't quite the far-right stampede it was supposed to be. Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado and Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania were putting on strong showings in their Senate races; Independent gubernatorial candidates Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and Eliot Cutler in Maine were also hanging tough.
This election is not - and was never - an outright endorsement of the GOP. It is about independents swinging against unified Democratic control of Washington.
There's also a lot of evidence of ticket splitting this year; look at the GOP's Tom Corbett sailing into the governorship in Pennsylvania, but Pat Toomey trailing his total. In Oregon, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden was returned to office, but GOP candidate (and former NBA star) Chris Dudley was also elected. This is happening across the country: Voters want the checks and balances but aren't willing to straight-ticket vote if one of the candidates is on the extremes. This is about trying to re-balance government, not empower a new ideological movement.
It's a victory for the founding fathers' vision of checks and balances.
John P. Avlon is a CNN contributor, senior political columnist for The Daily Beast, and author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America."
Bennett: Vice President Rubio in 2013
Tuesday was a great night for Republicans because as Marco Rubio said, we now have a second chance. It's still important to remember this country is not quite yet a Republican country, but as of Tuesday night it is saying it is most definitely not a Democratic Party country either.
Let us celebrate, but then let us get to work, the serious work we promised.
We must keep our promises, and we must never cease explaining not only our positions but also why we hold them. And look forward to Vice President Rubio in 2013.
William Bennett, a Republican strategist and radio talk show host, is a former education secretary and federal drug czar.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama’s party did not enjoy a good night in the midterm election, which is an understatement. The overstatement is in my daily letter to the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
My wife and I went to a festival once in the small town of Chauvin, Louisiana, and under a blistering sun we joined a storm of people dancing a country two-step to thundering zydeco. Five minutes later, thrashed by elbows and knees, we stumbled from the floor sweating like stevedores. As we collapsed into folding chairs, an old Cajun twirled past, shot us a grin, and called out, “It ain’t as easy as it looks, is it cher?”
Neither is change.
You and your Democrats learned that the hard way this week. For those members of Congress who danced in to the beat of Obamania in 2008, it had to be the shortest two years of their lives; going from hello to goodbye on the same fist bump; from “Let’s measure for curtains” to “Hey Chuck, get some cardboard boxes and call Ryder about a truck, will ya? We’re headed home.”
They clearly wanted things to change, so you can’t blame them for lack of effort. But voters are interested in results, not passing out gold stars for trying. And the timeline for those results has been shrinking.
Maybe that’s a measure of how we are as people these days. We want our coffee fast, our information faster, and every new trend is last week’s news as soon as we notice it. But then, in all fairness, we’ve been sold the promise of quick change by you and your political pals on both sides of the aisle. Oh sure, once someone is elected, he or she invariably tries to retreat from the glowing promises of the trail, but by then the idea is already out there that change will be, if not immediate, at least not far down the road.
So what do you do now? Good question. I don’t have all the answers (and quite possibly I don’t have any) but I’ve always thought that revolutionary leaders have short shelf lives. Their revolutions must produce real results quickly. Those results don’t have to be earth-shattering, but they have to be something that people can grab, or their followers will put down their flags, go home for dinner, and the revolution is over.
Editor's note: CNN's "Election Night in America" coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET tonight. Ed Rollins, a senior political contributor for CNN, was White House political director for President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Ed Rollins.
CNN Senior Political Contributor
Even though the American elections won't be decided until the polls close tonight, the Irish bookies late last week started paying off bettors who predicted Republicans would win a majority in the House of Representatives. And they stopped making new bets. That's a pretty definite statement!
Although I am very confident my party (Republican) will win the House, I usually like to wait until the voters have voted before taking any victory laps. Many of my pundit friends have had a field day attempting to analyze, over the last several weeks, the early voting patterns of those of you who have cast ballots already and argue what it all means. I have always been more concerned with the late counting of votes rather than the early voting.
And because so many races are so close, this is one election in which every vote can matter.
There is an old saying in the business: "We only hold elections to see if the pollsters are right!" And if the pollsters are right, it will be a big night for Republicans and a lot of second-guessing at the White House.
Certainly viewers will know some trends and results shortly after the polls close. But in other cases, it will be late Tuesday and maybe even sometime Wednesday before we know the final results - particularly in the Senate, where key Western races may alter the final outcome.
Here is what's at stake: There are 37 Senate races being contested (19 Democratic and 18 Republican). Fourteen of those seats are open, meaning either the incumbent is not running for re-election or has been defeated in a primary.
Program Note: The midterm battle comes to the forefront tonight. It's Election Day in America, and you won't miss a result by following Anderson Cooper and the Best Political Team on television tonight on CNN, starting at 7 PM ET.
Against the backdrop of a bitterly divided Congress and an angry and frustrated electorate, the most expensive midterm election in history finally comes to a climax Tuesday as America votes on 37 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
Here are five things to watch as the day plays out:
218 is the number: Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to reach the 218-seat majority needed to control the House. While most experts believe they'll win control of the chamber, it remains to be seen how big a margin they might have when the new Congress is sworn in next year.
Republicans are also expected to make gains in the Senate but come up short of the 10 seats they need to win control there.
If Republicans gain control of the House, look for them to take steps to try to roll back portions of health care reform; extend the Bush-era tax cuts, if the current Congress doesn't when it returns after the election; write legislation for targeted tax credits for small businesses, which they believe will spur job growth; and trim the federal budget by as much as $150 billion.
Turning out the vote: Polls show Republicans more energized than Democrats, which suggests a higher turnout of GOP voters. While Americans aren't happy with either party, they tend to vote against the one in power.
Obama has drawn large crowds lately in a series of rallies at college campuses to try to energize young voters, a key segment that helped elect him two years ago. The question is whether they'll come out to vote on Tuesday.