Yesterday’s elections were a mixed bag for Democrats. There were positive results for liberals on three key ballot initiatives they cared most about. The big win of the night was in Ohio where the anti-union SB5 was overwhelmingly repealed by the voters by a margin of 61-39 percent. By a similarly impressive margin of 60-40 percent, the voters in Maine also rejected a new Republican law that would have ended same day registration. And in a surprising turnaround from only a few weeks ago the voters of Mississippi strongly rejected the radically anti-choice “personhood amendment,” though in a defeat for liberals the voters of Mississippi also approved a law requiring photo ID to vote.
While the night was generally good for progressive policies at the ballot box, it was not as good a night for Democrats running for office.
On net Democrats lost state legislative seats and may have lost control of two important state legislative chambers. That’s significant given that only four states (Mississippi, Virginia, New Jersey and Louisiana) held regular legislative elections this year.
In Virginia Democrats lost seats in the lower chamber. Depending on the results of a recount, Democrats may end up losing two Senate seats, putting the balance of power at 20 D – 20 R with the Republican Lt. Gov giving the GOP a working majority.
In Mississippi the results are still being counted, but it looks like the Republicans may have barely netted enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives for the first time since reconstruction.
In New Jersey Democrats did about as well as they did in 2009, gaining only a single state legislative seat.
Some national Democrats may be talking heart in how completely the anti-union law was defeated in Ohio, but they should be more worried about the fact that in the state legislative races Democrats did only as well as or worse than they did in the 2009 election, and 2009 was not a good year for Democrats.