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It was a bad Tuesday for conservatives across America as voters took to the polls to defeat several GOP-backed issues. In Ohio voters overwhelmingly chose to roll-back a Republican-backed law to strip public employees’ unions of collective bargaining rights over health care and pension benefits, and a requirement that they pay 15% of their health care costs.
In Mississippi voters rejected a constitutional amendment that stipulated “personhood” begins at conception, which would have effectively banned abortion statewide. The amendment would also have banned “morning after” forms of birth control, and it would have banned disposal of unused fertilized eggs left-over from in-vitro fertilization procedures.
In Arizona voters recalled Republican state senator Russel Pearce and replaced him with fellow Republican Jerry Lewis. Pearce authored Arizona’s controversial immigration law that requires police to ascertain a person’s immigration status when interviewing them with regard to unrelated offenses.
In Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear defeated Republican challenger Steve Williams to win a second term. The state economy and jobs were the top issues in the hotly contested race.
Republicans did hold on to the governor’s seat in Mississippi, where Lt. Governor Phil Bryant appears to have defeated Johnny DuPree according to CNN projections.
The Ohio referendum and the Mississippi amendment were the two high-profile contests. In both cases core GOP political philosophies were on the line. In particular these two issues were a referendum on the influence the Tea Party has over the mainstream Republican party, and indicate rejection of their ultra-right agenda by voters. The Mississippi vote once again shows that the majority of American support reproductive rights, and won’t allow the extremists in the GOP to dictate to women on their right to choice.
Ohio voters did appear to be handing Democrats an at least symbolic loss, however, voting for a state ballot measure that would exempt Ohioans from mandatory insurance enrollment under the Democrat-backed health care reform law passed in 2010. It’s doubtful the state measure will actually overrule the federal law.
This preview of the electorate’s political leanings must have GOP strategists re-thinking some of their key positions going into the 2012 general election. Their hard turn to the right in their battle against the Obama administration isn’t paying-off, and the roller-coaster ride their primary campaigns have turned into make it difficult to see what they might do to win the votes of independents. The Tea Party favorites like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry haven’t held the forward positions they had early in the campaign season, and the more mainstream competitors like Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are having some image problems that are creating division in the ranks.
Now would be a good time for Democrats to get their game together and exploit these weaknesses in the Republican field – but the Democrats aren’t known for getting their ducks or anything else in a row when it comes to united, focused effort.