* Democrats focus on victory for middle class
* Republicans cheer Ohio vote on Obama's healthcare law
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON, Nov 9 An electoral victory for
union rights in Ohio gave Democrats hope on Wednesday that
President Barack Obama could win the battleground state in
2012, although results from votes nationwide had mixed messages
for both parties.
Ohio voters struck down a law supported by Republican
Governor John Kasich that limited bargaining rights for police,
firefighters and other state workers as a way for local
governments to balance their budgets.
The outcome drew swift praise from Democrats, who will seek
to use it to energize union voters to support Obama in next
year's presidential race.
"Fundamental fairness has prevailed," Vice President Joe
Biden said in a statement late on Tuesday. "By standing with
teachers and firefighters and cops, Ohio has sent a loud and
clear message that will be heard all across the country: The
middle class will no longer be trampled on."
Biden's response showed how closely Obama's White House was
watching the results in Ohio, where the union-limiting law was
defeated by about 60 percent to 40 percent.
Ohio, which typically swings between supporting Republicans
and Democrats, is a major prize in the presidential election
and could determine who wins next year.
Republicans found solace, however, in a separate Ohio vote
soundly rejecting a requirement in Obama's signature healthcare
reform law that everyone have health insurance.
"There were mixed messages," said Rex Elsass, president of
the Ohio-based Strategy Group for Media, a consulting firm that
works for Republican candidates. "The commonality ... is when
government goes too far in the electorate's mind, they reject
NIGHT FOR DEMOCRATS
Mixed messages or not, analysts said the night largely
belonged to Democrats.
James Brudney, a law professor at Fordham University, said
the Ohio vote should give cautious hope to Democrats about
"They still have a lot of work to do but this was
definitely a positive," he said. "There were a lot of people
who still perceive the Republicans as overreaching against the
The on-the-ground organizing that helped defeat the law
also would help in get-out-the vote efforts for next year's
election, Brudney said, although the economy remained an issue
that Republicans will exploit.
In another closely watched ballot initiative on Tuesday,
voters in Mississippi rejected a proposed state amendment that
would have limited abortions by defining life as beginning with
Mississippi voters also were asked to decide whether human
life begins at conception, the so-called "personhood amendment"
to their state constitution.
They rejected the amendment, which would have made
Mississippi the first U.S. state to define a fertilized egg as
a person, a controversial concept aimed at outlawing abortion,
some types of birth control and infertility methods that result
in the loss of embryos.
Results elsewhere were mixed for both sides. Democrats and
Republicans split the two races for governor that were being
contested, with Kentucky Democratic Governor Steve Beshear
handily winning re-election and Mississippi Lieutenant Governor
Phil Bryant victorious in Mississippi.