US voting: moderate message, except on moose

The moose in Maine got the most attention. But among the referendums Tuesday, taxes in Ohio and bonds in New York were more important. And they fared better with voters than did the moose.

Ohioans voted not to roll back their recent big boost in state income taxes, and New Yorkers agreed to float bonds to repair state roads and bridges. It may herald a reversal of the public's views of recent years on taxes and services: Beginning with California's Proposition 13, Americans had been voting in favor of lower taxes even at the risk of having fewer state and municipal services.

Voters may now be concluding that the need for more services outweighs the desire for lower taxes. The two states' results also may reflect citizens' increased confidence in the economy. Washington should note that voters may be more willing to support government by taxes - and balance the federal budget - as Senator Dole urges, than conventional election year wisdom suggests.

But neither the economy nor the national publicity helped the moose: Maine voters decided to continue the annual moose hunt.

Like the moose question, most issues were local in nature, but some had broad ramifications.

One was in Cambridge, Mass., where voters were deciding whether to allow any work within city limits on nuclear weapons, from research to production. The result will be read as one indication of the strength of the American antinuclear movement, and as an assault on university research independence. The outcome is not expected for days: Ironically, the vote on this technologically advanced issue is being tallied the 19th-century way, on paper ballots counted by hand.

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