Colorado's Affirmative Action Surprise

If there were two ballot measures I felt completely sure would pass on Tuesday, they were the bans on public-sector affirmative action in Nebraska and ...
by | November 6, 2008

If there were two ballot measures I felt completely sure would pass on Tuesday, they were the bans on public-sector affirmative action in Nebraska and Colorado. Similar proposals have typically won widespread support.

Well, that shows what I know. The Nebraska measure passed, but right now the one in Colorado is trailing narrowly. Here's the latest from the Denver Post :

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Amendment 46 was failing 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent, or by a margin of 14,038 votes. But clerks in Boulder and Adams counties were still counting possibly more than 100,000 ballots.

"We're cautiously optimistic," said Melissa Hart, co-chairwoman of the No on 46 campaign. "We're really excited the trend seems to be showing that the voters of Colorado are saying 'no' to this deceptive initiative."

I've tended to think there's something to the argument that a Barack Obama presidency will -- fairly or unfairly -- expedite the end of affirmative action in college admissions, public contracting, etc. If a black man can be elected president, the public will less likely to accept the idea that minorities face disadvantages that government needs to address.

The results in Colorado don't necessarily speak to whether the argument that President Obama will be the end of affirmative action is right or wrong. The measure also applied to gender-based affirmative action. And, of course, Colorado voters didn't know that Obama had been elected until after they had already voted.

At the very least, though, this vote is more proof of the unpredictability of ballot measure politics.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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