2016 election predictions: Alabama


U.S. Senate:

Richard Shelby (R): Incumbent Senator of Alabama.  Govtrack does an analysis of members of Congress based on the bills that they sponsor and co-sponsor among ideological grounds and leadership scores.  When you look up Shelby, there are two other Senators who score nearly identical with them.  Shelley Moore Capito and Joni Ernst are the most similar Senators by that score. Govtrack provides some other statistics: in this Congress, Shelby introduced 0 bills that became laws.  He cosponsored 49 total bills in this Congress.  14% of those bills were introduced by someone other than a Republican.

He introduced 6 bills in this Congress  The bill with the most co-sponsors was S. 1867 International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders.  The bill would provide notice of travel by registered sex offenders outside the US and when sex offenders would travel to the US.

Shelby is a pro-life politician who opposes same-sex marriage.  He voted against debating the Gang of Eight immigration bill calling it the “mother of all amnesties.”  He supports a balanced budget Constitutional Amendment and has opposed raising the debt ceiling.  He supports a flat tax system.  More on Richard Shelby’s support or opposition to issues can be found here.

Shelby has $9.8 million cash on hand for his Senate run.

Ron Crumpton (D): Crumpton is running for Senate on the Democratic ticket.  He won his primary with 56% of the vote.  Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary in Alabama with nearly 78% of the vote. Crumpton announced a number of policy issues on his website that he is running on.

He is trying to run a more populist campaign for the Senate seat.  He is supporting a minimum wage increase to $12/hour with an increase to $15/hour over the next three years. He ants to reschedule marijuana and end federal crimes on marijuana, mandatory minimum sentences, and private prisons. Despite running in Alabama one of the worst states for supporting immigration reform, he does support immigration reform.

Despite running as a Democrat on a number of issues, he is trying to thread the needle with gun rights and does not support gun control bills.  This can mostly be attributed to the fact that he’s running in Alabama.

The rest of his issues can be found on his website.

Prediction: Alabama is a very conservative state and Shelby has a tremendous cash advantage over Crumpton.  This election will not be close.

The 2012 Presidential election saw Mitt Romney get 60.55% of the vote and Barack Obama got 38.36% of the vote.  I believe the margin will be similar in this election which would give Shelby’s

Amendment 1: Ballotpedia has the title of the Amendment:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to establish procedures to ensure that no more than three of the members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees shall have terms that expire in the same calendar year and to add two additional at-large members to the board to enhance diversity on the board.

A “yes” vote would add two members to the Auburn University Board of Trustees and prevent that not more than three board member terms expire in any one calendar year.

There doesn’t seem to be much opposition to the proposed Amendment.  As far as I can tell, at least.  It doesn’t even seem to be that controversial.  It should pass with very high margins.

Amendment 2: Ballotpedia has the following title for this ballot measure:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any monies from the State Parks Fund, the Parks Revolving Fund, or any fund receiving revenues currently deposited in the State Parks Fund or the Parks Revolving Fund, and any monies currently designated pursuant to statute for the use of the state parks system from being transferred for another purpose other than the support, upkeep, and maintenance of the state parks system.

Notwithstanding, in the event that guest revenues to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceed the threshold of $50 million (as annually adjusted based on increases in the consumer price index) in a fiscal year, the sales and use and cigarette tax revenue distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be reduced in the following fiscal year. The amount of the reduction shall correspond to the amount of guest revenue to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceeding the threshold. The amount of tax revenue not distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be distributed to the General Fund.

Proposing an amendment to Amendment 617 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the option to provide for the operation and management, by non-state entities, of hotels, golf courses, and restaurants at any applicable state parks in Alabama

In plain english, the amendment would prohibit the legislature from reallocating state park funds for other uses.  Opposing the amendment would allow the legislature to reallocate funds for other uses.  The Montgomery Advertiser in their editorial that $15 million has been transferred from the state parks system to the General Fund.  Further, they note that the parks department does not get any General Fund dollars and raises most of its money from entrance fees and other fees.

The legislature transferred $3 million out of the service fees and maintenance budget pots that led to the closure of  five parks last October.  The Montgomery Advertiser argues taht without this amendment being passed the parks would continue to face budget crunches and ample opportunities for the legislature to cover up other budgetary shortfalls.  They argue that the only way to restore the parks to budget stability would be to pass this amendment.

Transferring money from the parks department is passing a value judgment on what is important to the state and their legislators.  While Alabama does have a budgetary crisis with the prison system and public education dollars, the parks department and state parks provide valuable economic revival to cities and towns that have parks.  They also increase property value and quality of life.

There is not significant opposition to the amendment but the idea of covering up budget shortfalls may be popular with some.  Explaining how much it costs to run state parks and maintain them may be difficult to explain but ultimately explaining that transferring money away from parks is going to be more difficult.

I suspect this passes with nearly 60% of the vote.

Amendment 3:

Ballotpedia’s title of the amendment:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to revise the procedure for adoption of local constitutional amendments to provide that a proposed constitutional amendment the Legislature determines without a dissenting vote applies to only one county or a political subdivision within one or more counties shall be adopted as a valid part of the constitution by a favorable vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the affected county or the political subdivision and county or counties in which the political subdivision is located, who vote on the amendment

The amendment, if passed, would change the way the Alabama Constitution is amended.  Local constitutional amendments are voted on by the entire state of Alabama unless 3/5 of the legislature and a unanimous vote of the constitutional amendment commission determine that the amendment only applies to one county or jurisdiction.

If it was passed, it would eliminate the constitutional amendment commission and require a unanimous vote of both houses of the Alabama legislature.

I don’t see a lot of opposition to this bill.  I assume that it will pass.

Amendment 4:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize each county commission in the state to establish, subject to certain limitations, certain programs related to the administration of the affairs of the county

This amendment would grant more authority to carry out community, transportation, and emergency assistance programs.  Project VoteSmart gives the following summary:

  • Authorizes a county commission to establish certain programs necessary for the administration of the affairs of the county, including, but not limited to, the following programs (Sec. 1):
    • Programs relating to county personnel, including, but not limited to, employee benefits and employee incentive programs;
    • Programs relating to the community, including, but not limited to, programs to provide for clean roadways and to protect individuals from dangerous animals;
    • Programs relating to local transportation, including, but not limited to, public transportation programs and programs to encourage road safety;
    • Programs relating to county offices; and
    • Programs relating to emergency assistance, including, but not limited to, ambulance service programs and programs to improve emergency management services.
  • Prohibits a county commission from establishing, assessing, or increasing a tax or fee (Sec. 1).
  • Prohibits a county commission from establishing a program that infringes on private property rights (Sec. 1).

This was opposed by 17 members of the Alabama House of Representatives, 11 Democrats and 6 Republicans.

I do think that there should be some specifities about what infringing on private property rights includes.  But I am not sure what specifically is in the bill that should be opposed.  I have not been able to locate the reasoning behind the opposing votes.  The Amendment should pass.  This section will be updated as I find more opposing statements on it.

Amendment 5: Ballotpedia

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal and restate the provisions of Article III of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 relating to separation of powers to modernize the language without making any substantive change, effective January 1, 2017

This amendment simply modernizes the language found in the constitution of Alabama.  It does not seem to make any substantial changes to the Constitution.  Because it does not make any substantial changes, the Amendment should pass.

Amendment 6: Ballotpedia – “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to become operative January 1, 2017, to repeal and replace Article VII, Impeachments.”

The amendment would change the language to specify that to impeach a state official, a two-thirds supermajority of the state senators present.  Apparently, the current Alabama constitution does not list whether a majority of all state senators or if majority approval of the senators present would be sufficient.  Other changes with this amendment would include removing the superintendent of education from the list of offices subject to impeachment, added members of the State Board of Education, and removed other irrelevant language.  Finally, it engages in political correctness by removing gender-specific language (I’m just kidding about the political correctness part).

The reason for the amendment is because of the potential impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley.  Governor Bentley will probably have articles of impeachment brought against him because of sexual harassment.  There, apparently, was some debate over how the articles of impeachment would occur if we did not know how they could be impeached.

Clearly, it has not been an issue in the past.  There was only one attempted impeachment in the last 100 years.  I think it’s important to clarify language in the state constitutions so that there is not any ambiguity.  Since there is not any shifting of powers or exclusion of powers but just clarification, I expect this amendment to pass.

Amendment 7:

Relating to Etowah County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the employees of the Office of Sheriff of Etowah County, except for the chief deputy, chief of detention, chief of administration, chief of investigation, director of communications, and food service manager, shall be under the authority of the Personnel Board of the Office of the Sheriff of Etowah County

The reason for this measure is so that Etowah county sheriff’s deputies to receive raises without giving similar raises to all county employees.  This seems to be one of those places where an amendment could only be applied to one county or locality instead of having the whole state vote on it.  I think it will probably pass.

Amendment 8:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to declare that it is the public policy of Alabama that the right of persons to work may not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an agreement to deny the right to work, or place conditions on prospective employment, on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an employer from requiring its employees to abstain from union membership as a condition of employment; and to provide that an employer may not require a person, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to pay dues, fees, or other charges of any kind to any labor union or labor organization

Adding right-to-work text to the Alabama constitution will probably make it harder to change in the future.  Alabama is already, more or less, a right-to-work state so even without this amendment, Alabama would continue down the path of being a “right to work state.”  Maybe I’ll write something more in the future but I do not agree with “right-to-work” policies, in the abstract.  I think that it’s likely to pass, regardless.  It will probably get around 60% of the vote. This will make it more difficult in the future if Alabama wants to change away from being a “right to work” state.

Amendment 9:

A local constitutional amendment to the to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901; to provide that a person who is not over the age of 75 at the time of qualifying for election or at the time of his appointment may be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Pickens County

This amendment would prevent anyone over the age of 75 be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Pickens County. This seems like a way just to age people out of the judiciary.  This is not something that I agree with overall.  Typically, these type of age requirements and the like is to prevent popular people from maintaining their posts.

It will likely pass, I mean, 75 seems old.

Amendment 10:

An amendment to Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that any territory located in Calhoun County would be subject only to the police jurisdiction and planning jurisdiction of a municipality located wholly or partially in the county

This will probably pass. The reasoning is that it would redefine jurisdictions to prevent it from going across county lines.

Amendment 11:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to permit cities and counties, notwithstanding any existing constitutional restrictions, to utilize tax increment district revenues collected within a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone and other moneys to incentivize the establishment and improve various types of manufacturing facilities located or to be located in such Zone, and to validate and confirm the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act, Act No. 2013-51.

This doesn’t seem like a bad idea. This creates a new way to fund infrastructure projects in underdeveloped areas.  The idea is that the tax increment financing would fund the debts of a project because the infrastructure will create more taxable property and increase value of the surrounding real estate.  The increased revenue finances the debt.

Amendment 12:

Relating to municipalities in Baldwin County; proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature by general or local law to provide for any municipalities in the county to incorporate a toll road and bridge authority as a public corporation in the municipality for the construction and operation of toll roads and bridges in the municipality and to authorize the authority to issue revenue bonds to finance the projects.

This creates a governing body to establish tolls to fund major road projects.  They will be able to issue bonds to help fund these projects.

I actually think this will be pretty close but will be passed about 55%.

Amendment 13:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to repeal any existing age restriction on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official, with the exception of persons elected or appointed to a judicial office, currently imposed by a provision of the Constitution or other law; and to prohibit the Legislature from enacting any law imposing a maximum age limitation on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official.

I agree with this concept.  I don’t think there should be maximum age restrictions because I think that they are largely passed to prevent popular politicians from retaining power.  In general, I believe that democracy is the best way to prevent those you do not want in power from gaining power.  This prevents age restrictions in the future. I wish it would go further and get rid of age restrictions for judicial appointments.

It should pass.

Amendment 14:

To propose an amendment to Amendment 448 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 71.01 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to ratify, approve, validate, and confirm the application of any budget isolation resolution authorizing the consideration of a bill proposing a local law adopted by the Legislature before November 8, 2016, that conformed to the rules of either body of the Legislature at the time it was adopted

I’ll let Ballotpedia explain this:

Currently, bills passed in the Alabama Legislature prior to budget approval require a “budget isolation resolution” (BIR). These BIRs must be passed by a three-fifths supermajority of the quorum present. More recently, the Alabama House had been passing BIRs with only three-fifths of those members who were both present and voting, requiring the support of fewer legislators.

Amendment 14 guarantees the legitimacy of the “present and voting” interpretation of BIR voting procedure and ensures that over 600 local laws that were passed using this procedure would be protected. Otherwise, courts could strike down these local laws. For example, a Jefferson County sales tax law was struck down after it was revealed that it was passed using this BIR voting procedure.

This clarifies the language out there with regards to the Budget Isolation Resolution.  This is a little “inside baseball”, but this should pass.  I think a number of people will be confused by this.

Ugh. That is a lot of ballot amendments.

Statewide Presidential election: There will not be any polls out there for Alabama because it is a safe Republican state.  In 2012, Mitt Romney won the stae with 60.55% of the vote compared to Barack Obama’s 38.36%.  The total votes for Romney were 1,255,925 votes compared to 795,696 for Obama.  There were a total of 2,074,338 ballots cast.

I’m anticipating a similar amount of ballots cast in 2016 despite the talk that is going out there currently.  I’m projecting Trump getting 58% of the vote.  I have Clinton at 40% right now.

We’re assuming that the third party vote share will be around 2%.

Federal elections:

None of the Congressional elections are going to be very close.  The Congressional Districts are drawn to be noncompetitive.  Romney won 6 of the 7 Congressional districts and got over 60% in those districts.  The last district was won by Obama with 72.4% of the vote.

Alabama Congressional District 2:

Martha Roby (R)

Nathan Mathis (D)

Predicted winner: Martha Roby

Alabama Congressional District 3:

Mike Rogers (R)

Jesse Smith (D)

Predicted winner: Mike Rogers

Alabama Congressional District 5:

Mo Brooks (R)

Will Boyd (D)

Predicted winner: Mo Brooks