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Election Night 2011: A Repudiation of Extreme Republican Policies, A Victory for the Middle Class

Memorandum

To: Interested Parties

From: Brad Woodhouse, DNC Communications Director

Re: Election Night 2011: A Repudiation of Extreme Republican Policies, A Victory for the Middle Class

Date: November 9, 2011

Last night, we saw voters come out to the polls to defeat Republican initiatives and Republican candidates across the country in a full-scale repudiation of extreme and divisive Republican policies, and party leaders like Mitt Romney, from immigration and women's reproductive rights to ballot access and the treatment of public employees. Whether in the West, Northeast, Midwest, South, or any corner of our nation, the American people see Republicans and the extreme-policies for which they are advocating as out of step with the vast majority of Americans. Voters are tired of Republican attempts to balance our economic recovery solely on the backs of the middle class without asking the wealthiest and special interests to pitch in and pay their fair share. And they’re tired of the Republican Party’s anti-women, anti-worker, anti-immigrant, and anti-middle class policy positions, which are falling flat with voters and do not bode well for their electoral prospects in 2012. Unfortunately that’s all they seem to be getting from state elected officials, Republicans in Washington, and the Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail.

As bad a night as it was for Republicans, it was a big night for Democrats. We won on both the policy front and on the organizing front—showing a turnout operation, led by Organized Labor, particularly in Ohio, that gives Democrats a boost going in to 2012. With less than a year to go until the 2012 elections, the Republican Party is licking its wounds and paying a price for its far right wing, Tea Party-dictated agenda.

Ohio Stands Up For Working Families

Perhaps the most watched race of the night was Issue 2 in which Ohio voters struck down SB 5, the anti-workers’ rights measure passed by Republicans in Ohio and signed into law by Republican Governor John Kasich, which stripped public employees of some of their most basic workplace rights, including the right to collective bargaining. After ratcheting up their anti-worker rhetoric and attempting to strip essential workers’ rights from Ohio’s public servants, Republicans’ targeting of public employees for political reasons fell flat on its face. The repeal of some of the most anti-worker legislation we’ve seen in a very long time is further evidence that Ohioans and the American people are tired of Republican attempts to force middle class Americans to bear the burden for deficit reduction at the federal level and balancing budgets at the state level without asking the special interests and the wealthiest few to pay their fair share. And they won’t even let workers have a seat at the table when their futures are on the line. This was an important victory for working Americans, especially because of the millions in Tea Party and special interest money that poured into the state to support these misguided and divisive policies. Republicans’ actions were an insult to working families across the state—an insult Ohio voters won’t soon forget.

Mississippi Personhood Defeat a Victory for the Health of Women and Their Families

In Mississippi last night, Republicans tried to pass Amendment 26, the so-called “Personhood” Amendment, a dangerous measure that would restrict a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. It would have highly restricted or even ended most fertility treatments, and would go as far as outlawing many forms of birth control. It is so extreme it even gave pro-life Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour pause. But voters in Mississippi rejected this extreme measure, an important victory for the health of women and their families. This is not good news for Republicans, who are working hard to try to get these personhood amendments on ballots in states across the country and have pursued anti-choice efforts, including attacks on Planned Parenthood, in an effort to gin up the far right wing of their party for purely political reasons. Republicans should take note that Americans will not let them pass these divisive initiatives that would move our country, and the rights of women, backward.

Maine Voters Come Out On the Side of Democracy

In Maine, we saw voters cast their ballots in support of reinstating same-day registration, a nearly four-decade’s long policy in the state that the Republican legislature did away with in June. Republicans did so knowing that Election Day registration is a large part of why the state has seen such high voter turnout—for example, in 2008 it enabled nearly 60,000 new voters to register in Maine, which President Obama went on to win by a decisive margin.

This attempt by Republicans to limit the voting rights of eligible citizens was soundly rejected as a blatant partisan attempt to change the rules for partisan gain. Last night's victory is the culmination of a statewide campaign that collected nearly 70,000 signatures in order to put this issue on the ballot—another demonstration of Democratic organizing strength. The results in Maine are a bitter pill for Republicans, who have been trying to implement significant voter restrictions, voter ID laws, and other ways to limit access at the ballot box for political advantage—something that the American people are just not going to accept. Americans take their right to vote very seriously, and believe that our democracy is stronger, not weaker, when more people are able to cast their ballot—and last night the voters in Maine agreed.

A Rebuke to Anti-Immigrant Republicans

The recall of Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senate President and Republican leader who authored SB 1070, the divisive and extreme anti-immigration policy in Arizona, shows that Americans aren’t embracing the anti-immigrant rhetoric prevalent in the Republican Party. The fact that the Republican leader of anti-immigration efforts in Arizona—the most powerful politician in the state—lost his seat in a recall election to a moderate Republican after Democrats gathered the signatures to get the recall election on the ballot is proof-positive that voters are rejecting the extreme agenda of Republicans who are spending more time on divisive policies like SB 1070 than on putting Americans back to work.

Mitt Romney: You Call That Leadership?

As Mitt Romney continues to flip flop all over the place in an effort to catch the political winds in his sail, we’ve seen him eventually come out in support of legislation that wholly endorses—and represents—this Republican anti-middle class, anti-worker, anti-immigrant and anti-women sentiment that the American people are so strongly against.

  • Mitt Romney supported Issue Two in Ohio which would have affirmed the law John Kasich signed to restrict bargaining rights for public employees. That law was repealed by the voters in a decisive defeat for Kasich and Romney last night.
  • Romney supported passage of personhood amendments that would ban a woman’s right to choose and restrict access to fertility treatments and birth control. That amendment was soundly defeated in Mississippi last night.
  • In Arizona, the recall of the State Senate President who authored SB 1070 was also a thorough repudiation of the leadership of Mitt Romney. Romney was among the first of the Republican presidential candidates to go anti-immigrant in the Republican debates and his rhetoric has been among the most anti-immigrant of all the Republican candidates. Yet his and his Party’s extreme policies in this regard were rejected by voters in Arizona—a stinging rebuke for Romney who has used anti-immigrant rhetoric to curry favor with the most extreme elements of his party.

It’s clear that Mitt Romney isn’t reading the electorate correctly, and he surely isn’t standing up for middle class Americans and their concerns. Romney’s pandering to the right and endorsement of these extreme policies is also notable because he has worked so hard to embrace the policies of the far-right, policies that we’re seeing the American people refuse to accept.

Republicans’ Spin Won’t Work: Last Night They Got Walloped

It’s tough to find a victory for Republicans last night, though they will try to spin two as significant—neither of which erases what was a very bad night for Republicans and their extreme policy agenda.

In Virginia, Republicans guaranteed they would decisively take back the state Senate, and the conventional wisdom was on their side—but after the voters had their say, it’s clear the best they will reach is parity with the Democrats at 20-20. One race could still go the Democrats’ way, which would mean Democrats maintain control of the State Senate. Either way, Republicans underperformed in Virginia.

On Issue 3 in Ohio, which would ban the implementation for the individual mandate there and passed—neither the people of Ohio or the nation were not focused on that issue—all eyes were on Issue 2. In addition, pro-health reform groups both nationally and in state did not contest the ballot measure because it represented nothing more than anti-health reform messaging and its passage carries no legal weight. A state ballot measure cannot overturn federal law, and so its passage has no effect on the Affordable Care Act. The bigger decision yesterday was the DC Circuit Court’s unanimous decision upholding the constitutionally of the Affordable Care Act.

Conclusion

The entire Republican approach and agenda both nationally and in the states for the past year was soundly rejected last night. Their assault on immigrants and voter’s rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights – which has been the hallmark of their agenda in Congress and in the states—was turned back by the voters and it was a stinging rebuke to everyone from the unpopular Governor of Ohio, to John Boehner and to Mitt Romney. Republicans can now work with Democrats to find a balanced approach to the issues Americans face, or they can continue to reap the wrath of voters.