The polarization sparked by these battles "makes it difficult for people to think about what's at stake in a more practical way," says Carol Swain, a law and political science professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. It "continues to politicize the discussion of issues that should be on the table ... given where we are demographically." Examples she'd like to see more dialogue about include immigration reform and class-based, rather than race-based, affirmative action, an idea she supports.
ACRI, a nonprofit in Sacramento, Calif., backed initiatives in five states this year. The efforts in Missouri and Oklahoma came to a halt without enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. In Colorado, the validity of signatures has been challenged in court – a scenario that appears likely in both Arizona and Nebraska after the signature deadlines, July 3 and 4 respectively.