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According to Bailey Ludlam, an analyst with Ballotpedia’s, the majority of the financially oriented questions focus on three topics: ways to raise revenue, tax exemptions and requiring a two-thirds vote from the state legislature prior to imposing new taxes.

“In light of the current recession, economic issues are at the center of most statewide discussions,” she wrote in a recent analysis of state initiative questions this year

Though legalizing marijuana, a long-standing social issue, will be the biggest November ballot initiative, some supporters are also framing that as a question not of individual rights but of money.

Jeff Wilcox, a supporter of Proposition 19, California’s initiative to legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana, commissioned a study projecting how much tax money would be generated by a proposed statute in Oakland to license the growing of medical marijuana. The six-month study found the plan would annually reap at least $60 million in taxes and other revenue.

Mr. Gerow said Prop 19’s backers have timed their proposal shrewdly, getting the initiative on the ballot when the state is in the midst of a festering budget crisis.

“Timing is the main ingredient in politics,” he said.

Supporters of ballot initiatives also consider whether to put them in the primary or general election to bring out voters and help their preferred candidates.

“If it’s your intent to pass a minimum-wage increase, you might decide on a ballot when only Democratic races are contested,” said the Brookings Institution’s Mr. McDonald.

Many in President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign have credited Ohio’s anti-gay marriage initiative with boosting conservative turnout that year and provided Mr. Bush with the votes he needed in a very close contest with Sen. John Kerry.

“That was the state that decided the race,” said Larry Sabato, director of University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Missouri state Sen. Jane Cunningham, said Republican lawmakers had wanted Prop C on the November ballot, with the idea of boosting Republican Rep. Roy Blunt in the race for the state’s open Senate seat against Democrat Robin Carnahan. But Missouri Senate Democrats threatened to filibuster the proposal, so Republicans accepted the primary ballot as an compromise.

“Still, Missouri was the first state to vote against Obamacare and let everybody know a sleeping giant had awakened and was mad,” Ms. Cunningham said.