Ohio victory for unions gives Obama fresh hope

Swing state rejects conservative measure in key referendum ahead of US elections

Washington

Ohio's voters have comprehensively thrown out a state law curbing union rights – one in a series of setbacks for conservative initiatives across the country that could be an encouraging portent for Barack Obama and the Democrats less than a year before the presidential election.

The Ohio referendum, on a measure that severely limited the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions, was the most closely watched result on Tuesday's election night 2011, in a key swing state that often decides the outcome of presidential elections.

The law was rejected by a margin of 62 to 38 per cent. But analysts warned yesterday that, given the low turnout in off-year elections (those that are held in a year when no presidential election takes place), the outcome was no guarantee that Mr Obama would be victorious in a state which he carried by a margin of only 4.6 per cent in 2008, and one which could again be pivotal in next November's election for the White House.

Nonetheless, it represents a much-needed success for the union movement, a major source of funds and grassroots organisation for Democrats, but whose clout and membership has dwindled in recent years.

"Ohio sent a message to every politician out there: go in and make war on your employees rather than make jobs with your employees, and you do so at your own peril," said a jubilant Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labour confederation.

More generally, the Republicans' defeat in Ohio may be another sign, following the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement, that after the sharp swing to the right at last year's mid-term elections, the political pendulum could be swinging leftwards again. The result encouraged Democrats to believe that they can regain lost ground in other traditionally close-fought states in the industrial mid-west, after the drubbing of 2010.

As the referendum result came in, John Kasich, Ohio's Republican governor, who had campaigned relentlessly in support of the law, acknowledged that voters "might have said it was too much, too soon". Those words, according to many commentators, summed up the overall lesson of the night for Republicans: don't overreach, keep it simple and focus on the basic problems of the struggling economy. This meant, first and foremost, unemployment.

That too appeared to be the message from voters in Mississippi as they rejected the bitterly controversial "personhood" initiative promoted by social conservatives that would have outlawed not only abortion but certain forms of contraception, by declaring human life started at the moment of fertilisation.

Another setback for the far right came in Arizona, as voters in a special recall election threw out the state senator Russell Pearce – an idol of the anti-government Tea Party movement and a prime mover behind the state's draconian anti-immigration law, passed in 2010, which is now under challenge in the federal courts. "If being recalled is the price of keeping one's promises, then so be it," Mr Russell said after being defeated by Jerry Lewis, a more moderate Republican.

But it was not all bad news for Republicans. In Virginia, the party seemed to be on the verge of taking complete control of the state legislature – not good news for Mr Obama. Virginia is another swing state, which in 2008 was carried by the Democrats for the first time since Lyndon Johnson was running for President in 1964.

And although Republicans lost on the labour law issue, they won another referendum in Ohio declaring parts of President Obama's 2010 health care law unconstitutional; the issue will now almost certainly have to be resolved by the US Supreme Court.

Nor, surprisingly, was it a bad night for incumbents, despite the virulently anti-Washington mood among the electorate. In Kentucky, Steve Beshear, the Democratic governor, was comfortably re-elected, as were sitting mayors in many big cities including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Indianapolis.

Bad night for the GOP

Ohio Voters threw out a measure that would have limited unions collective bargaining rights. But they also declare parts of Obama's healthcare law unconstitutional.

Mississippi Proposal that would have granted "personhood" to a foetus from fertilisation is defeated.

Arizona Tea Party favourite State Senator Russell Pearce is thrown out of office after a recall election.

Virginia Republicans did make progress towards taking full control of the state legislature in this swing state.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform