The significant results Tuesday night (Nov. 8), both nationally and locally, were in ballot-measure results. By and large, the outcomes reflected pragmatism and moderation in the electorate.
In swing-state Ohio, voters strongly supported a measure that would allow them to opt out of the so-called individual mandate in Obamacare. This reflected the continuing unpopularity of at least that provision in the administration's health-sector remake. The same voters, however, rejected even more strongly a law that would have restricted union collective-bargaining rights. The measure had been backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich as a means of restraining wage, benefit, and pension increases granted to public-sector unions. The national and state labor movements threw money and organizers into the fight and Kasich conceded that he had been beaten.
In conservative Mississippi, an extreme anti-abortion measure was soundly rejected. It had been framed by a national anti-abortion group, which used Mississippi as a test market prior to deciding whether to try similar proposals in other states next year.
Here at home, voters sensibly decided to get the state out of the liquor business and to reject a regressive $60 Seattle car-tab increase next year. It will likely take at least another day before we know whether Tim Eyman's tolling initiative will succeed or fail. Voters approved a union-sponsored long-term care measure.
The handy victory by the long-term care measure was perhaps the only real surprise. It highlighted the degree to which ballot language can be decisive in triggering yes or no votes. If you read the background information on the measure, it could easily be seen as an expensive and redundant proposal designed to principally benefit the union sponsoring it. But the wording on the ballot, describing the measure, made it appear a common-sense tightening of standards for home-care workers.
There were no strong leftward or rightward signals in the abovementioned results. They mainly reflected voters' pragmatic issue-by-issue reactions in a time of economic stress. I was particularly pleased that voters here rejected a flagrantly misleading media campaign against getting the state out of the booze business and that they gave a resounding "no" to Mayor Mike McGinn's and the Seattle City Council's attempt to tax them out of their automobiles. Contrary to common belief in the local political establishment, voters are awake after all.
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