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Election Day had both liberal and conservative victories

Democrats and liberals can claim some significant victories in Ohio, Mississippi and elsewhere after the Nov. 8 elections, political watchers say, but the message overall was a mixed one as Republicans saw some victories as well.

Iowa State University politics professor Steffen Schmidt referenced the defeat of an Ohio ballot measure that would have limited labor unions: “Democrats scored and unions and liberals maybe scored some pretty significant victories over conservative policies.”

“In Ohio, rejection of the law restraining collective bargaining was a big blow … and put other Republicans back on their heels in terms of going that route in the future,” Schmidt said.

Another conservative-backed ballot measure in Mississippi, which would have banned all abortions and some forms of birth control, was also defeated.

“Mississippi’s refusing to basically ban all abortions was fairly remarkable because Mississippi is one of the most, and perhaps the most conservative state in the country,” Schmidt said. “And if they don’t want to go that far on some of these social issues like that then that tells you there is a limit to how far voters are willing to go on some of these issues, even when they generally agree on the question of abortion.”

But Republicans had some victories as well, Schmidt said, and that means it wasn’t a clear-cut message from voters. Voters in Ohio rejected the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and another measure pushed by conservatives in Mississippi that requires identification to vote was accepted.

“I think the message was more that they don’t want Republicans and especially conservatives kind of ramming things down the throat of voters,” Schmidt said.

University of Iowa politics professor Tim Hagle agreed that both parties can find some positives to take away from the Nov. 8 elections. Hagle said the rejection of those two incongruous measures in Ohio could be read as voters rejecting extreme issues, especially the collective bargaining measure which he said was “an example of Republicans overreaching a little bit.”

“You had people turn out in Ohio to reject the collective bargaining measure, these were folks that were union folks, that were liberals, and yet a lot of these same people also rejected Obamacare,” Hagle said.

But Hagle said it’s hard to say how much people were paying attention to elections in an off year, which also makes it difficult to reach too many conclusions on which way the political winds are blowing.

“Basically the bottom line is this is a mixed bag and nobody can really say it’s a great trend one way or another,” Hagle said.

Drake University politics professor Dennis Goldford said the election shows Democrats are organizing better as of late than they did in 2010.

“If they work hard and get their base turned out they can win an election,” he said. “They just don’t always do a good job of getting that turnout.”

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