Local elections in Ohio and Virginia today, on what some media outlets have anointed as “Super Tuesday,” could have some impact on the re-election chances of President Barack Obama, given that they are both key swing states.
In Ohio, voters are deciding on a referendum that would repeal a law stripping unionizing rights. And in Virginia, voters will decide on the makeup of the state Senate, which Democrats control.
Here is how The Hill thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/other-races/192255-small-races-big-2012-impact sizes up both elections.
- Democrats and unions are working feverishly to repeal a state law that took unionizing rights away from public employees, including teachers and firefighters. Polls indicate that the Democrats and unions will win this battle. And while polls are often of dubious value in referenda, Republicans are pretty much conceding defeat.
- Chris Jankowski, head of the Republican State Leadership Committee, told The Hill that GOP Gov. John Kasich’s fading popularity has damaged Republicans’ cause and that the party has a “messaging problem” on the issue.
- Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping that a strong turnout will provide momentum for Obama’s 2012 campaign in Ohio. Unions have put great emphasis on the vote, spending millions of dollars, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is in the state.
- Democrats also hope that, if they succeed, they will make headway in other states where strong Republican governors took over in 2011, such as Wisconsin and Florida.
- Democrats have a four-seat advantage in the state Senate and were able to form congressional boundaries in their favor under a redistricting plan. But Democrats have eight seats to defend, while Republicans have only two. And the GOP has a huge spending advantage. The party and its affiliated groups have doled out more than $30 million.
- The strong popularity of Gov. Bob McDonnell also gives Republicans a leg up. His approval rating stands at about two-thirds. At the same time, Democrats are stuck with the albatross of Obama, whose approval rating stands a bit below 50 percent statewide and much lower in some of the more rural, southern sections.
- “Holding the Senate would be a huge deal for us, it’d be a definite accomplishment,” one Democratic strategist involved with the races told The Hill. And the strategist said Obama isn’t helping. The president won Virginia by seven percentage points last time around, but things are looking much dicier now.
- A Democratic loss could hurt the party’s standing in Congress. The state hasn’t passed its congressional redistricting map yet, and Republicans are battling for a set-up that would offer them an eight to three advantage in the state’s delegation. If Democrats lose the state Senate elections, they will be powerless to thwart the GOP plan.
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