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Election Night 2011: A Mixed Bag for Conservatives

Hopefully you've already read my preview, so let's dig into tonight's results...

Ohio: As expected -- and lamentably -- Gov. John Kasich's landmark collective bargaining reform law has gone down in flames, thanks to a well-funded and relentless program of demagoguery by Buckeye State Democrats and public sector unions.  The margin isn't close; as of this writing, it stands at 61-39 to overturn the law.  This is a satisfying, but unsustainable, victory for the Left.  They may have beaten back an evil conservative law, but a fiscal reckoning still awaits.  The math doesn't go away, even if the law does.  What liberals won't mention is that there was another significant item on the ballot today: A referendum on Obamacare's tent-pole individual mandate.  Ohioans' rebuke of Obamacare is shaping up to be even more overwhelming than the Issue 2 tally.  Right now the margin in favor of the anti-Obamacare measure is 66-34.  This is the second major swing-state repudiation of Obamacare since it was enacted last March.


New Jersey: A complete yawner in the Garden State.  In the state Assembly and Senate, almost nothing has flipped at all.  The balance of power in the State Senate will likely end up unchanged, although several races were very tight.  On the Assembly side, Democrats appear poised to pick up one seat, which the Republicans could snatch right back with a pick up of their own in District One.  That race is too close to call.  The Democratic spin will be that holding off any Republican gains is a victory, and that Christie's appeal is limited.  The Republican spin is that absolutely brutal redistricting made GOP gains virtually impossible, and that the opposition party tends to gain in these situations, which Democrats have not.  Christie backers will also note that while more Republicans in the legislature would have been a welcome luxury, the Governor has managed to pass conservative budgets and reforms by fracturing Democrats and co-opting their leadership.  But for now, the divided-government status quo reigns.

Virginia: What a bloodbath in the House of Delegates.  Republicans will emerge from tonight with at least a 2/3 majority, having picked up a minimum of 6 seats, if not 7 or 8.  To add insult to injury, they also knocked off the Democratic Minority Leader in District 9.  The Senate is razor thin, and may come down to a recount.  Republicans held both redistricted seats (in 13 and 22), and are narrowly leading a pair of Democratic incumbents in Districts 17 and 20.  If both of those microscopic margins -- we're talking hundreds of votes -- hold up, the upper chamber will be split evenly, which would be a de facto Republican majority.  A very solid night for Bob McDonnell's muscular Republican Machine in Virginia.  This is going to be a tough state for President Obama to win again.


Mississippi: Republican Phil Bryant handily won the Governor's mansion, which is being vacated by the term-limited Gov. Haley Barbour.  A GOP hold.  A human life "personhood" referendum also failed in this solidly pro-life state.  Some liberals are excited about this development, but many major pro-life groups actually opposed the measure.

Kentucky: Blue Dog Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear waltzed to re-election, despite high unemployment and a big budget mess.  Voters in places like Kentucky and West Virginia are fascinating to me.  Overwhelmingly Republican in presidential races, but stuck on blue in many statewide elections.

Arizona: Powerful State Senate leader Russell Pearce, who authored the controversial SB-1070 immigration bill, was ousted in a recall election.  He had also been dogged by a number of ethics complaints.  Pearce was replaced by a fellow Republican. 

Overall Verdict: An uneven night for conservatives, across the board.  Clearly not a continuation of 2010's wave, but not an especially good evening for Democrats, either.  Ohio's Issue Two result is by far the biggest disappointment (leavened slightly by the Issue Three romp), and Virginia is the brightest spot.  Onward!

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