Ballotpedia:Analysis of the 2010 ballot measures

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This page is a research report about 2010 ballot measures.
2010 ballot measures
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2010 litigation"Best/Worst"
Calendar2010 local ballot measures

Statistical summary

The charts below includes all election results including November 2. Some of the measures included are currently considered very close and may change results subject to official election counts.

2010 election stats
Total Approved (%) Defeated (%)
184 118 (64.1%) 66 (35.9%)

Initiated measures

Type of ballot measure How many on ballot? How many won? How many lost?
initiated state statute 29 10 19
initiated constitutional amendment 17 9 8
Veto referendum 4 4 0
Total 50 23 (46%) 27 (54%)

Legislative and other referrals

Type of ballot measure How many on ballot? How many won? How many lost?
legislatively-referred state statute 23 17 6
legislatively-referred constitutional amendment 106 76 30
Advisory 1 1 0
Convention question 4 1 3
Total 134 95 (70.9%) 39 (29.1%)

A look at November 2

  • 42 citizen initiatives
  • 113 legislative referrals
  • 4 constitutional convention questions
  • 1 advisory measure

The table below highlights the approval rating of all the measures that appeared on November 2 ballots as they stand toady. (An estimated 11 measures remain very close and could change the current approval rating.)

  • Approval rating in 2008 is estimated at 59%
November 2 election stats
Total Approved (%) Defeated (%)
160 103 (64%) 57 (36%)

Citizen initiative changes

See also: Chart of 2010 ballot measure changes
  • 11 states in 2010 have fewer citizen initiatives on their 2010 ballot than in 2008, while only 5 states have more initiatives on their 2010 ballot than in 2008.
  • 10 states had no changes in their initiative count from 2008 to 2010. It must be noted that 11 of the 26 I&R states do not have any citizen initiatives on their 2010 ballot.
  • In all, there were 74 total citizen initiatives on the 2008 ballot, while there are 51 citizen initiatives on the 2010 ballot, leading to a total of 24 fewer initiatives in 2010. The biggest change came from the state of California, who saw a drop in 8 ballot initiatives in 2010.

Also, 24 out of the 26 I&R states have measures on the 2010 ballot, which includes both legislative referrals and citizen initiatives. The only two I&R states with zero measures on the 2010 ballot were Mississippi and Wyoming. By contrast, in 2008, of all of the 26 I&R states, Mississippi was the only state without citizen initiatives and legislative referrals.

# of initiatives in 2008 # of initiatives in 2010 Change between the two years
Totals: 74 50 -24

Legislative referral changes

See also: Chart of 2010 ballot measure changes
  • 15 states will have fewer legislative referrals on the ballot than they did in 2008, while 21 states have more legislative referrals than they did two years ago.
  • A total of 8 states did not have any changes in their legislative referral count when compared to 2008.

In 2008 there were 99 referrals, while in 2010 there were 128. In total, 2010 has 31 more referrals on the ballot than in 2008. The biggest change came from the west side of the country yet again, as Arizona will see 8 more referrals on the ballot for voter approval. Oklahoma came in second with 6 more referrals.

Seven states had ballot measures - legislative referrals or citizen initiatives - on the 2008 ballot, but did not have any on the 2010 ballot. Those states were Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Another seven states had measures on the 2010 ballot but did not have any on the 2008 ballot. Those states were Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

# of referrals in 2008 # of referrals in 2010 Change between the two years
Totals: 99 130 +31
Ballot measure researchers
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Issues on the ballot

See also: Chart of 2010 ballot measure issues

As measures were certified for ballots for the 2010 election year, all 184 measures were categorized with at least one issue category. Some measures fell into more than one issue category, thus the number of measures on the 2010 issue analysis chart do not add up to 184. Both legislative referrals and citizen initiatives were included in this analysis.

In total, 2010 saw a decrease in social issues like marriage, immigration and gambling and an increase in tax and state budget issues. Specifically, taxes and state budgets had a 13 point increase compared to 2008. Like 2010, 2008 saw a relatively low total number of certified measures compared to a decade average of 220. A total of 174 measures were certified in 2008, while 184 are certified for 2010.

The chart below highlights the most popular issues for 2010:

Top 5 Issues # measures per issue
Taxes 40[1]
Administration of government 25
Bond issues 21
Elections and campaigns 15
State budgets 15

Issues: the results

As part of Ballotpedia's analysis, concerning ballot measures and their political issues, a chart was compiled after the November 2, 2010 general election showing the following:

  • Election result percentages by category - how the country voted on certain issues.
  • Number of measures per issue in all 2010 elections.
  • Percentage of measures that failed, per issue.
  • Average margin of defeat of failed measures, given below in a percentage.
  • Percentage of measures that passed, per issue.
  • Average margin of approval of enacted measures, given below in a percentage.
  • Only categories with 5 or more ballot measures on the ballot were included in the analysis.

In analyzing the chart, it was found that:

  • The category with the highest average margin of defeat was state budgets at 40%
  • The category with the highest average margin of victory was hunting at 56%
  • The category with both the lowest average margin of defeat and victory was bond issues at a 4% margin of defeat, and an 18% margin of victory.

Here are the top five categories, taken from the full chart, in terms of number of measures:

Issue # measures  % failed Average margin of defeat  % passed Average margin of victory
Taxes 40[1] 35% 19% 65% 30%
Administration of government 25 16% 19% 84% 27%
Bond issues 21 10% 4% 90% 18%
Elections and campaigns 15 27% 13%[2] 73% 38%
State budgets 15 40% 40% 60% 22%

Initiative activity in 2010

See also: Chart of 2010 initiative activity

A total of 26 states offer some sort of initiative or referendum rights. In 2010, an estimated 606 initiatives were filed in an attempt to circulate petitions and qualify for the 2010 ballot. Of those 606 initiatives, only 51 successfully qualified and were certified for ballots. The Ohio Slot Machines Veto Referendum (2010), which is included, was certified for the ballot but was later withdrawn by supporters. In the "initiative activity" analysis we took a deeper look at the many reasons why initiatives failed this year.

# of initiatives proposed # initiatives certified in 2010  % certified
Totals: 606 51 8.42%
  • Of the 26 states that offer initiative and referendum, only Wyoming and Maryland had no proposals for 2010.
  • At 98 initiatives, Colorado had the highest number of proposals. California followed in a close second with 96 initiatives. Oregon and Washington took third and fourth place with 83 and 77 proposals.
  • Colorado led the pack again with the highest number of failed initiatives. In total 459 initiatives made an effort to qualify for the 2010 ballot but either missed petition requirements after meeting state deadlines or missed the deadline completely for 2010.
  • Some ended their efforts early and withdrew their proposals; other initiatives simply expired prior to the deadline. This resulted in a total of 50 initiatives that were taken out of the running for 2010 ballots. Washington had the highest number (18) in this category.

Although only an estimated 8% of initially proposed initiatives successfully qualified for the ballot, 22 (3.6%) of the 2010 proposals announced that they are redirecting their efforts towards future ballots - 2011 and 2012. Some states allow for a rolling petition deadline which allows for initiatives filed in 2010 to redirect efforts to qualify for the 2011 or 2012 ballot. These states include: Alaska, California, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, and Utah.

Lawsuits were certainly the point of discussion this year. However, after reviewing initiative activity for 2010, the analysis revealed that an estimated 25 (4.1%) initiatives faced legal challenges during the petition process. The majority of those challenges occurred in the state of Missouri (9). Legal challenges after certification were not included in the analysis. Other states that saw challenges prior or during petition deadlines include: Colorado, Florida, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington.

The chart below details the states in which no proposed citizen initiatives were certified:

I&R State # of initiatives proposed # initiatives certified in 2010
Arkansas 4 0
Idaho 20 0
Illinois 2 0
Maryland 0 0
Michigan 6 0
Mississippi 8 0
Nebraska 3 0
Nevada 11 0
Utah 5 0
Wyoming 0 0

Costs per signature

See also: 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

Of the 50 initiatives that qualified for the 2010 ballot:

  • 35 measures used petition drive management companies.
  • California had nine measures in the top 20.
  • Massachusetts Question 2 had the lowest CPRS with $0.08 per require signature.

The main petition drive companies included:

Petition management company # of petition drives managed States those managed petition drives were found in
National Petition Management 7 California, Maine, Missouri, Washington
Progressive Campaigns, Inc. 7 California, Florida, Missouri, Oregon, Washington
Citizens Solutions, Inc. 3 Washington
Kimball Petition Management 3 California
Masterson & Wright 2 California
Voice of the Electorate, LLC 2 Oregon
Arno Political Consultants 1 California
Dewey Square Group 1 Alaska
Lincoln Strategy Group 1 Montana
M&R Strategic Services 1 Montana
NW Democracy Resources 1[3] Oregon
Riester Consulting Company 1 Arizona
Click here for a state by state breakdown!

Measures throughout the years

The chart below highlights the numbers of measures that appeared on the ballot from 2000 through 2010. This includes all citizen initiatives (initiated state statutes, initiated constitutional amendments and veto referendums) , legislative referrals (legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and legislatively-referred state statutes), and advisory measures.


     Highest in the category

Year Initiatives Legislative referrals Other measures TOTAL
2010 50 130 4 184
2009 8 24 0 32
2008 74 92 8 174
2007 4 39 1 44
2006 83 140 3 226
2005 19 26 0 45
2004 65 107 1 173
2003 7 60 1 68
2002 55 162 6 223
2001 4 35 0 39
2000 82 151 2 235

Campaign contributions

See also: 2010 ballot measure campaign contributions

NOTE: Campaign contribution reports in various states are still in the process of being submitted. Featured totals indicate totals as of December 2010 and will be updated once final reports are submitted.

A total of 184 ballot questions were certified for 38 statewide ballots in 2010, however only only 80 measures (43.4%) received campaign contributions. A total of $379 million were spent in 2010 according to December 2010 campaign finance reports.


  • Highest statewide contributions: California ($217,342,328)
  • Lowest statewide contributions: Iowa ($41,250)[4]



See also

Pencil.pngBallotpedia articles

The Breakdown series


  1. 1.0 1.1 Two Oregon tax measures are listed in one article.
  2. Florida Amendment 1 had final results of 52.49% voting 'yes', and 47.51% voting 'no'. However, for the passage of the measure, at least a 60% vote was required. Since the 'yes' votes outweighed the 'no' votes, this measure was not taken into account.
  3. This group paired with Progressive Campaigns, Inc. on Oregon Measure 76.
  4. 4.0 4.1 States with no contributions made towards ballot measures were not considered for this category.
  5. Categories with no contributions made towards ballot measures were not considered for this category.