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Mixed bag: Election post-mortem

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 9, 2011 10:33 AM

It was a split decision in Ohio last night.

Voters in the Buckeye State rejected Obamacare and its individual mandate overwhelmingly — all 88 counties approved a constitutional amendment “to preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care and health care coverage.”

Unfortunately, voters also said no to Issue 2 – the budget and union reform initiative. Ohio blogger Jason Hart, who vigilantly chronicled Big Labor’s spending, lies, and thuggery, has a must-read post-mortem here. Ohio bloggers at Third Base Politics also fought the good fight and have lots of post-election analysis.

Too bad voters didn’t listen to this wise advise from Kevin O’Brien at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They’ll be discovering the “hidden costs” soon enough:

A “no” vote preserves the old, familiar game of hostage-taking. No school levy? Fine, no sports and no buses — and that’s the taxpayers’ supposed advocate, the school board, talking! If that doesn’t break the public’s resistance, a teacher strike will.

Want to lay off a firefighter? Fine, here’s a union grievance and a bill for thousands of dollars, payable by the taxpayers. You may win, but it will cost you a bundle. And you may not win. Or you may win for now, only to have an arbitrator decide you shouldn’t win later. Then you get a bill for the reinstated employee’s back pay, too.

Advice to voters: See the hidden price tag in a “no” vote on Issue 2, and have the sense to vote “yes.”

In this election — as in all the many contentious elections down the road, should Issue 2 fail — when the answer to the unions is “no,” the reason won’t be because taxpayers hate public employees, or envy them, or because they believe public employees are overpaid.

The reason will be because those taxpayers have studied the financial status of their very own households and have decided, on that basis alone, that they are unable to commit more money to government.

Issue 2 opponents have worked hard to make this election about emotion. They have also ignored the inconvenient certainty that the financial situations of localities across Ohio will necessitate layoffs, whether or not Issue 2 passes. They are quite prepared, though of course they will not say so, to resort to the time-honored union practice of “eating their young” when layoff time comes, so as to protect union leaders and other senior employees. That’s why any talk of merit is anathema to them.

If they win Tuesday, it will be because a majority of Ohioans do not understand the seriousness of an impending fiscal crisis at all levels of government.

Eventually, though, it will become clear that neither the money nor the public will exist to sustain the system that SB 5 and Issue 2 aim to change.

The union-friendly imbalance of power — the structural defect in the system that SB 5 begins to address — has been winked at for almost 30 years, because enough money was sloshing around that system to satisfy everyone.

Although not everyone is willing to admit it, that is no longer the case.

Elsewhere, immigration enforcement proponent Russell Pearce lost an unprecedented recall election in Arizona. Open-borders lobbyists are claiming Pearce’s scalp over his staunch opposition of illegal immigration, but it appears that local issues and the taint of corruption scandals may have played as significant a role in the race.

Elsewhere, Mississippi voters rejected a pro-life personhood amendment. LifeNews reports:

Mississippi voters on Tuesday made the Magnolia State the second to reject a personhood amendment that would have put the state on record as defining human life beginning at conception.

The amendment was controversial as it pitted some pro-life advocates supporting it against others who recognized the amendment would not ban abortions and would perhaps give a pro-abortion dominated Supreme Court or lower courts a chance to reaffirm the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions in 1973.

With 1559 of 1876 precincts counted, the amendment failed by a 58 to 42 percentage point margin.

Mississippi follows Colorado, which also rejected the amendment twice in both 2010 and 2008. The 2010 amendment lost by a 70-30 percentage point margin as Amendment 62 failed to gain a majority in any Colorado county. Colorado voters defeated Amendment 48 in 2008 by a 73-27 percentage margin with 1,605,978 voters rejecting it compared to 585,561 who were supportive. The 2010 Colorado personhood amendment received the support of more than 100,000 fewer voters than in 2008.

The amendment would define unborn children as persons under the law starting at the point of conception and would, if upheld, sponsors claim it would essentially prohibit abortions in the state. However, top pro-life attorneys and organizations said they didn’t expect the amendment to be upheld in court and they say, even if it does survive a legal challenge, the amendment likely won’t ban any abortions.

On the plus side, Mississippi did approve a voter ID measure requiring voters to show government-issued identification at the polls.

More mixed-bag results:

Republican Phil Bryant won the Mississippi governorship by a comfortable margin, while Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, prevailed easily too, winning a second term.

…The results in Arizona and Ohio gave Democrats and their allies reasons to cheer. But Republicans also won some important victories. The party easily held its majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and also appeared on the cusp of gaining effective control of the Virginia Senate. Democrats held a 22-18 edge in the Senate prior to the election, but, with several races very tight, Republicans were very close to pulling into a 20-20 tie, which would allow Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling to cast tie-breaking votes. Republicans also were aiming to win a majority in the Mississippi House, where Democrats previously had the edge.

Taken together, the results didn’t provide a clear message from voters about what sort of policies they want or whom they’re likely to prefer in 2012. That unclear message was, in part, a natural consequence of the limited election slate, in which any single result could be written off as the product of local circumstances, not grand judgments. Mississippi and Kentucky were the only states to hold gubernatorial elections, while only Mississippi, Virginia and New Jersey held regularly scheduled elections for the state legislature.

The muddled result, though, may be a real reflection of an electorate that lacks a clear preference for any single party right now. Nationally, President Obama’s approval rating has consistently stayed below 50 percent for months, yet he still leads all his Republican rivals in many polls. Voters broadly disapprove of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. In that context, it may not be surprising that in state contests voters didn’t give Democrats the sorts of clear victories they won in 2006 and 2008 or Republicans the same triumphs they enjoyed in 2009 and 2010.

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