A tobacco war is underway in California. Tomorrow, voters there will go to the polls to decide whether to hike the cigarette tax by a dollar and use the proceeds to fund a new cancer research program. Polls initially showed the measure winning, but now, after a $47 million ad campaign, funded in large part by the tobacco industry, the outcome is too close to call.
Across the country each year, special interest groups spend hundreds of millions of dollars on ballot initiatives--more than $800 million in 2008, alone--despite the fact that many of them don't ever pass.
This year, there is still no clear pattern on what voters will see in the two dozen or so states that allow ballot initiatives (think same-sex marriage in 2004). But what we do know is that voters in some crucial swing states will see ballot questions this November aimed at gay marriage, marijuana legalization, workers' rights and President Obama's health care law (provided the Supreme Court doesn't strike it down first).
Conventional wisdom says that these questions could give voters another reason to go to the polls and swing the election one way or the other, but the data on whether this actually happens is inconclusive, at best. What do you think? Has a ballot question ever given you an extra push to vote?