Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

February 7, 2014

MARK BENNETT: HJR-3 referendum could draw voters off sidelines

Voters ages 18 to 29 could impact other races.

(Continued)

But GOP incumbents in the state House and Senate may be more vulnerable to an expanded electorate.

“If the attention is at the House or Senate level, that’s where you’d expect the difference to be made,” Downs said.

With no choice for president, governor or U.S. Senate on the ballot, the referendum would indeed command public attention this fall, just as it is now.

“If a constitutional ban on gay marriage were proposed to voters in November, we should expect campaigning on the issue, state tracking polls on the question and heavy media coverage,” stated Matthew Bergbower, assistant professor of political science at Indiana State University. “Putting the ban on the ballot sets up a campaign environment for Statehouse and congressional candidates to address this societal issue to a larger degree than their campaigns may wish.”

The political party advantage is not yet definite. Bergbower couldn’t say whether the referendum “will hurt conservatives. Statewide polling shows a few different trends, for and against, at the moment, and some of these opinions could very well be altered once they hear candidates, parties and interest groups on the campaign trail present their side of the issue.”

If so, this midterm election may draw the level of turnout every Indiana election should get.

Mark Bennett is a columnist for the Tribune-Star of Terre Haute. Contact him at mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

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