“Off-year” elections, without big-ticket presidential appeal, aren’t generally big news. But yesterday’s voting yielded surprising results for high-profile ballot measures in three states.
In Ohio, voters turned out to overturn a bill that had restricted the power of labor unions. The bill, spearheaded by Republican Governor John Kasich, was signed into law in March and immediately spurred a backlash from the state’s 350,000 public employee union members. Yesterday the law was overturned with over 60 percent of the vote, and labor leaders are declaring that the victory will serve as a model for union battles throughout the nation.
Meanwhile, voters in Mississippi went thumbs down on Proposition 26, a controversial measure that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person in an effort to outlaw abortion. Backers of the bill hoped that a victory would rekindle a national abortion debate. Opponents felt it went too far, and would have had repercussions for doctors performing any medical procedure on a pregnant woman. The measure was defeated by a margin of 58 to 42 percentage points.
Finally, in the state’s first recall election, Arizonans voted to oust State Senate President Russell Pearce (R), the author of that state’s controversial immigration law. Fellow Republican Jerry Lewis, who doesn’t support the immigration crackdown, took the seat instead.
Could these results point to a national backlash against treasured Republican issues? Have right-wing extremists pushed voters too far? Could we be seeing a sea change in attitudes? What do these results mean for the 2012 elections?
Ron Elving, NPR Senior Washington Editor