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 Ohio's message for Obama in 2012

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MesazhTitulli: Ohio's message for Obama in 2012   Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:38 am

I always get a little burst of civic pride when I hit the polls in odd-year elections, though my ballot this year had less substance than a Mitt Romney foreign policy speech. It seemed that the only line in New York City was for trial court judges: of the five candidates, the top five finishers would be appointed. For a competitive race near NYC, you had to head out to giant Suffolk County, on Long Island, where the big issue was whether the outgoing executive, a Democrat-turned-Republican caught up in an criminal investigation, erred by terminating the contract for an 80-something citizen who dressed as Santa Claus every year. The Democratic candidate cut a check for Santa; he won by a large margin.

Neither of the nation's two governor's races was competitive, though wholesale jerseys it was nice to be reminded that even Kentucky can plump for a Democrat by a 25-point margin. The night also had an uncommonly low number of city hall races, and none of those were really close. The most important was in San Francisco, where Ed Lee, a technocrat appointed interim mayor earlier this year largely by promising not to run for office, performed a classically San Franciscan volte-face and threw himself into a 16-candidate race. It looks as if he's going to win a mandate – returns are taking a while, as San Francisco has a "ranked choice" voting system – although I had a soft spot for the 64-year-old taxi driver whose primary claim to political nous was setting up Sharon Stone with a guy in the back of his cab.

Yet, if races for state and city offices had little excitement, the real action – cheap mlb jerseys and the real lesson for next year's rather more consequential election day – was found amid the state ballot initiatives. In Mississippi, voters rejected a dystopian anti-abortion amendment, which would have not only curtailed reproductive rights but also criminalised several forms of birth control and brought in the homicide investigators every time a woman had a miscarriage. More than 55% of voters rejected the so-called "personhood" measure, even after the outgoing governor and both the Republican and Democratic candidates backed it. (The GOP easily held onto the governor's mansion.) And Maine's citizens voted to reinstate same-day voter registration, in the face of a frankly bizarre effort by the state Republican party to convince voters that gays and lesbians were pushing the initiative.

But the biggest and most heartening story of the night was in Ohio, where nfl jerseys cheap voters didn't just void a bill that would have stripped workers of collective bargaining rights; they tore it to pieces. Sixty-two per cent of voters – and this was on a pretty heavy turnout for an odd-year election – turned against John Kasich, the GOP governor who, in just ten months, has made himself into the most unpopular state leader in the continental United States. The prospects for throwing out the union-busting law had been looking good in recent weeks, but on the night, even voters in the heavily Republican counties outside Cincinnati and Columbus thrashed the measure. It was a glorious rout.

The reversal in Ohio will give new life to labor-led efforts in Wisconsin. jerseys wholesale Democrats there fell one seat short of retaking the state legislature this summer and are now mounting an effort to throw out the governor, Scott Walker, who, like Kasich, has seen his popularity tumble after trying to push state workers back into pre-Upton Sinclair abjection. But there are national repercussions as well.

Odd-year elections aren't prime material for prognostication, and Democrats didn't make a clean sweep; a substantial number of voters who trashed the union-busting bill also voted for a symbolic measure opposing federal healthcare reform. But that might not be as contradictory as it yotoforum sounds. It implies that the Republicans are no longer the natural benefactors of populist, anti-establishment sentiment, and that justifiably angry voters will train their sights on anyone they suspect isn't listening to them. Voting, we are always told, is about making your voice heard. The Tea Party and the Occupy movement, whatever their (enormous) differences, have both served to underscore a crisis in American democratic representation. And Ohio Tuesday night was our first proof, following the pummeling of last year's midterms, that Republicans as much as Democrats should fear a pissed-off electorate.

In that kind of atmosphere, I would really rather have Barack Obama's name at the top of my ticket than Mitt Romney's, incumbency be damned. With one year to go, Obama's team has been looking at increasingly exotic electoral college permutations, stretching as far into red cheap jerseys country as Arizona and Georgia, to win him a second term. But on the evidence of last night, and especially considering the large turnout, the president may stand a better-than-fighting chance in the traditional swing states where many have already written him off.

The purplest of purple states, the one whose political class loves to remind you that they've picked the winning candidate 12 elections running, has not turned its back on Obama, so much as it has registered its disgust with a political class indifferent to its suffering. It was that disgust that put Kasich in office last year – and led to his spectacular defeat last night. Thus, as always, Ohio remains an American microcosm – and while the GOP capitalised on that a year ago, in 2012, the field is open.
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