UPDATE, Nov. 5: Click here to see how these measures fared.
While voters will have their say on 147 ballot measures on Tuesday, a handful rise above the rest.
Some measures are simply “advisory questions,” meaning no laws will be changed if they are passed. Others would affect policy, but only in minor ways. But a handful would have a significant impact on state and, in some cases, national policy and politics.
In this follow up to our guide to everything you need to know about those measures, we rounded up some of those more-significant issues on the ballot to look at what the latest available polls show about their prospects. What follows is a look at 25 state ballot measures and where they stand.
(Note: Our 1-5 rankings, described below, are not scientific and should be taken with a grain of salt. They are intended to be used as a shorthand for what polling has shown. Where possible, we link directly to the polls underlying our simple 1-5 judgment.)
1 = Strong likelihood of failure
2 = Likely to fail
3 = Unclear
4 = Likely to pass
5 = Strong likelihood of passage
Colorado’s Amendment 67
Summary: This amendment would count “unborn human beings” as a person or child under the Colorado criminal code and Colorado wrongful death act. Proponents say the measure would extend protections to the unborn, while opponents say it goes too far and would effectively ban all abortions. In opposing the measure, the Denver Post editorial board described the measure as “drastic.”
Polling summary: A late-October Suffolk University/USA Today poll found that nearly twice as many likely voters planned to vote against the measure than vote for it.
North Dakota’s Constitutional Measure 1
Summary: Measure 1 in North Dakota would add the following line to the state constitution: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” Proponents say it would protect all human life, while opponents say it’s a poorly written measure that could ban in vitro fertilization, some forms of birth control and rein in abortion rights.
Polling summary: A late-September/early-October University of North Dakota College of Business and Public Administration poll found the measure winning by roughly 50 percent to 33 percent.
Tennessee’s Constitutional Amendment 1
Summary: Tennessee’s Amendment 1 would lay the foundation for future abortion restrictions by amending the state constitution to explicitly make clear that nothing in it “secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”
Polling summary: A Middle Tennessee State University poll conducted in late-October found 39 percent support for the abortion amendment, with 32 percent opposed. Excluding those who plan not to vote on the measure, 21 percent have yet to make up their mind.
Arkansas’s Issue 4
Summary: Issue 4 would eradicate alcohol bans throughout the state, about half of whose counties are “dry.”
Polling summary: A mid-October poll by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College found that a majority, 54 percent, of frequent voters oppose the measure while 40 percent support removing county-level bans on alcohol sales.
Oregon’s Measure 90
Summary: This measure would reform the primary nomination process in Oregon, placing all candidates on the primary ballot regardless of party with only the top two advancing. This means that, in highly partisan areas, two members of the same party could end up running against each other. California and Washington have already adopted such systems.
Polling summary: An early-October poll by DHM Research found that support for switching Oregon to a “top-two” primary system is virtually tied among likely voters. (Opposition is barely winning 38 percent to 36 percent.)
Massachusetts’s Question 3
Summary: This measure would repeal a 2011 law, passed as the state’s (and nation’s) economy struggled to recover, that would allow three casinos and a slot parlor to be built in the state.
Polling summary: Two recent polls show Question 3 losing, albeit by a small margin.
Colorado’s Amendment 68
Summary: This measure would expand horsetrack betting, with the proceeds funding K-12 education.
Polling summary: A late-October poll found that 67 percent of likely voters opposed the measure.
Colorado’s Proposition 105
Summary: If passed, all foods containing genetically modified ingredients would have to carry labels noting that fact. Vermont passed a similar law earlier this year and was promptly sued by the grocery industry. Connecticut and Maine passed GMO requirements even before Vermont, but those only go into effect if enough nearby states pass such requirements first.
Polling summary: An October Suffolk University poll found the measure losing 49 percent to 30 percent.
Oregon’s Measure 92
Summary: This measure would require all foods containing genetically modified ingredients to carry labels noting that fact.
Polling summary: Of four polls conducted since September, three show Measure 92 winning. The most recent shows it losing.
Washington’s Initiative 591
Summary: Initiative 591 in Washington would ban background checks on firearms, unless in compliance with federal standards. This measure conflicts with Iniatitive 594, also on the ballot.
Polling summary: Polling on Initiative 591 has been mixed. Support eroded between April and October, according to Elway Poll results. But a more-recent KCTS-9 Washington survey shows it winning by a slim 2-point margin. Still, a more-detailed look at the poll shows a large share of respondents are open to changing their vote or haven’t yet made up their minds.
Washington’s Initiative 594
Summary: If passed, Initiative 594 would require universal background checks on gun purchases, in direct conflict with the ban on such checks included in Initiative 591.
Polling summary: The measure has strong support, according to two recent polls. One, the early-October Elway Poll, found that 60 percent of likely voters support the measure, compared to 32 percent opposed. Another, conducted in mid-October for public television station KCTS-9 and the University of Washington, found support winning 64 percent to 31 percent. (52 percent said they were definite yes votes, while 26 percent said they were certain they would vote against the measure.)
California’s Proposition 45
Summary: Changes to health insurance rates would have to be approved by California’s insurance commissioner, if this measure is passed.
Polling summary: Three out of four polls conducted in October show the measure failing.
California’s Proposition 46
Summary: This measure would introduce a pair of controversial changes to the state’s health care system. First, it would require drug and alcohol tests of doctors with consequences for those who test positively. Second, it would raise the limit on damages awarded for medical malpractice that cause pain and suffering. That provision would mean the existing limit of $250,000 would more than quadruple if passed.
Polling summary: Of three polls conducted in October, two show the measure failing, while another shows support and opposition equally tied.
Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2
Summary: This measure would legalize marijuana for recreational use. A similar question was posed to voters in 2004, but it failed by a 56 percent to 44 percent vote.
Polling summary: Polls have yielded mixed results. In a May survey, Public Policy Polling found support winning out, but a mid-summer follow-up found the opposite. A pair of recent polls commissioned by the opposing sides each found strongly conflicting results.
District of Columbia’s Initiative 71
Summary: D.C.’s Initiative 71 would legalize possession and cultivation of certain amounts of marijuana.
Polling summary: A September Washington Post/Marist/NBC4 poll found marijuana legalization enjoyed nearly 2-to-1 support, with 65 percent of likely voters saying they would back it and 33 percent saying they would not.
Florida’s Amendment 2
Summary: Florida’s Amendment 2 would grant access to medical marijuana for individuals with “debilitating diseases,” as determined by a licensed physician.
Polling summary: More than a dozen recent polls have shown that the measure has majority support, but Florida is one of a few states where that isn’t enough. To pass, the measure must garner at least 60 percent of the vote, a goal that is within reach—some polls show more than 60 percent support—but hardly guaranteed.
Oregon’s Measure 91
Summary: Oregon Measure 91 would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in the state. Proponents say it will keep citizens out of jail and save resources by preventing thousands of arrests and citations. Opponents criticize the measure for lacking clear protections against drugged driving, abuse and marketing to kids.
Polling summary: Out of three recent polls, two show Measure 91 winning, though the most recent shows it losing.
Alaska’s Ballot Measure 3
Summary: Alaskans will consider raising their minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 next year and again to $9.75 in 2016. After that, increases would be tied to inflation.
Polling summary: A Public Policy Polling survey of more than 1,000 likely voters on Nov. 1 and 2 found strong support for raising the minimum wage in Alaska. Exactly 33 percent said they would vote against the measure, while 62 percent said they would vote for it.
Arkansas’s Issue 5
Summary: Arkansas will consider raising its minimum wage from below the federal minimum of $7.25 to $7.5 at the start of 2015, increasing it 50 cents in 2016 and again in 2017.
Polling summary: A mid-October poll by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College found that 69 percent of frequent voters support the minimum wage hike, while 26 percent oppose it.
South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 18
Summary: If approved, Measure 18 in South Dakota would raise the minimum wage from the federal level to $8.5 next year and tie future increases to inflation.
Polling summary: A mid-October poll conducted for a handful of local news outlets found 2-to-1 support for the minimum wage hike: 60 percent said they’d vote for it while 28 percent said they would not.
California’s Proposition 47
Summary: Proposition 47 eliminates the possibility of being charged with a felony for six crimes, such as possession in small amounts of a number of drugs, including cocaine and heroin. This measure represents a further reform of the state’s 20-year-old “three strikes” law.
Polling summary: A late-October poll found that 51 percent of likely voters planned to vote for the measure, while 23 percent did not. Even if the 26 percent who said they were undecided join the no voters, it would still pass.
California’s Proposition 1
Summary: Proposition 1 would authorize roughly $7.5 billion in water infrastructure bonds.
Polling summary: A survey conducted in the second half of October found the measure enjoyed more than 2-to-1 support. (54 percent to 22 percent.) Even if all the voters who said they were undecided about Proposition 1 decided to vote against it, it would still win, according to that survey conducted by the Field Research Corporation.
Georgia’s Amendment A
Summary: If passed, Georgia would impose a constitutional cap on its income tax. Proponents say the cap will send a signal that the state is committed to keeping rates low, as is the case in neighboring states. Opponents say the measure is simply a campaigning tool and unwisely removes an important tool from the state’s policy arsenal.
Polling summary: An August poll found support for the measure at 57 percent, among likely voters, with opposition at 21 percent.
California’s Proposition 2
Summary: If passed, Proposition 2 would expand the state’s rainy-day reserves and require the state to pay down its debts in good times.
Polling summary: Four polls conducted since September show strong support for this measure.
Tennessee’s Constitutional Amendment 3
Summary: Amendment 3 would ban personal income taxes in Tennessee.
Polling summary: Tennesseans are split on whether to ban a state income tax, at least according to one recent poll: both sides are in a statistical tie, according to an October Middle Tennessee State University poll of 600 registered voters.