Ohio voters overturned a controversial law that would have weakened public employee unions and Mississippians rejected an antiabortion "personhood" initiative in elections Tuesday that suggested at least a pause in the strong conservative Republican trend that swept Democrats from office in 2010.
In the marquee fight of the day, a successful push by organized labor resulted in the repeal of Ohio's new law that would have sharply curbed collective bargaining rights for 350,000 government workers. The restrictive labor measure had been passed by the Republican Legislature and signed by newly elected Republican Gov. John Kasich, who led the unsuccessful effort to defend the law.
In Maine, a bill that would've ended same-day voter registration was defeated -- by a healthy margin. Russell Pearce, the man behind Arizona's anti-immigrant law, lost a historic recall. Incumbent Democratic Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear sailed to reelection. In Iowa, Democrat Liz Mathis won a special election that -- had she lost -- would've given control of the state Senate to Republicans.
Kind of seems like the wind is shifting, huh?
None of this should actually surprise anyone, though. You might remember that Republicans had a big year in 2010 not because their ideas were so awfully popular, but because Democrats and younger voters -- unhappy with an over-compromising White House and Democratic leadership -- stayed home. It was a given that they wouldn't stay home forever. And Republican overreach practically guaranteed that those voters would get out this time around. If you don't want to wake a sleeping giant, it's probably a bad idea to keep poking it with a stick. If people vote against things, rather than for things, Republicans gave voters a lot to oppose.
"Republicans did not end the day completely empty handed," writes Steve Benen. "Phil Bryant (R) was elected governor in Mississippi, and it looks like the GOP gained just enough seats to split Virginia’s state Senate, though Republicans came up short of their goal of reclaiming a majority... But the good news for the right was easily overwhelmed by good news for the left."
It's hard for me to understand the GOP overreach. Maybe they'd managed to convince themselves that everyone was on board with the Tea Party nuttiness. Or maybe they weren't fooling themselves at all and just wanted to do as much damage as possible while they had their hands on the levers. Whatever the reasons for trying to radically change everything, it doesn't seem to be working well for them at the ballot box. Not that this will make any difference to them.
"If recent history is any guide, Republicans will respond to the setbacks by changing nothing and forging ahead with the exact same agenda and far-right ideology," Benen predicts.
That ought to work out well for them.
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