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Battleground: Those ballot initiatives

The New York Times looks at the ballot initiatives on social issues in some key battleground states. "Divisive social issues will be on the ballot in several states in November, including constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in Arizona, California and Florida, and limitations on abortion in California, Colorado and South Dakota."

"Although research indicates that ballot measures do not drastically alter voter turnout, they have begun attracting the attention of both presidential campaigns. Unlike 2004, when same-sex marriage bans were considered in 11 states, no single issue will dominate statewide ballots."

A pro-Obama indie group, PowerPac (a 501c4 non-profit) plans to spend some $10 million to help on the voter registration front in some Southern states.

The Washington Post has a good piece on the issue of restoring voting rights to ex-convicts.

INDIANA: McCain's Indiana co-chair sums up the differences in state organization between the two campaigns: "What we're trying to communicate is that a lot of this ribbon-cutting and office openings (for Obama) has been establishing an infrastructure that already exists in the Republican Party in this state, so we will be working through these county operations just as we have in the past."  (The state party has about a dozen offices staffed full-time; Obama's campaign has 18 new field offices.)

IOWA: NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann writes of a long-simmering civil war among Iowa Republicans that comes to a head just as McCain hopes to mount an uphill battle there.

MICHIGAN: McCain makes his fourth trip to Michigan this week.

NORTH CAROLINA: Registration numbers for Africans Americans are rising at a faster rate in this state than among white voters. "According to data reported Aug. 2 by the State Board of Elections, there are 1,224,545 black registered voters, compared with 1,114,798 on Election Day in 2004. That's an increase of 109,747, or 9.8 percent."

"Meantime, there are 4,421,919 white registered voters, compared to 4,226,473 on Election Day in 2004. That's an increase of 195,446, or 4.6 percent. Those numbers put black voters at 20 percent of the electorate and white voters at 75 percent, roughly where they were in 2004."

"Black voters' share of the electorate is a little below the 23 percent threshold that some say Barack Obama would need to win North Carolina, on the basis of current polls. Still, voter registration is not a good indicator of turnout. Historically, black voters have turned out at a lower rate in North Carolina, making their percentage of actual voters a few points below their percentage of the electorate."

NEW JERSEY: The McCain camp says the Arizona senator will pick up a "significant" endorsement in this state today.