Ask voters in any state what single issue concerns them the most, and the answer is likely to be the same: the economy and jobs. More than two years removed from a crisis that caused the greatest economic downturn in generations, Americans with a job still feel as vulnerable as ever, while those out of work through no fault of their own worry every day about finding an increasingly scarce commodity: a good job that will allow them to provide for their families.
On Tuesday, voters around the nation, still reeling from an extraordinary economic downturn, voiced their strong displeasure by voting out an historic number of incumbent officeholders. State lawmakers were not spared in this national wave, as an older, more conservative, and less diverse electorate unhappy with both parties voted out hundreds of legislators. The result was nineteen state chambers flipping from Democratic to Republican control in an election fueled largely by continued discontent with the state of the economy.
On Tuesday, in addition to electing federal, state, and local officials to a new term, voters in 37 states will decide on approximately 160 ballot measures, including statewide initiatives, proposed amendments to state constitutions, and legislative and popular referenda. The total number of ballot measures across the nation is down this year from recent highs in midterm election years - according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, there were 224 ballot measures nationwide in 2002 and 226 in 2006.
April has seen two major industrial accidents that have captured the national eye. Explosions at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana claimed the lives of forty workers and injured thirty-eight. Much of the media attention
on these tragedies has focused on the culpability of employers and enforcement capacity at federal agencies responsible for regulating mine and offshore
drilling safety. However, there are proactive steps states can take to address occupational safety hazards and ensure people do not have to sacrifice their personal safety in exchange for a paycheck.