November 7, 2012
By James Sherk
While last night’s results disappointed conservatives, there were some bright-spots. Many of the voters who reelected President Obama also voted to support conservative policies at the state level, especially on labor issues.
Over the past two years conservative Midwest governors have turned their states’ government and economies around by tackling unions’ special privileges. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker balanced his states’ budget by curtailing collective bargaining and reducing government compensation. A union-backed referendum blocked Ohio governor John Kasich’s attempt to enact similar reforms. Michigan governor Rick Snyder required state employees to contribute more toward their pension and health-care benefits. Indiana governor Mitch Daniels signed a right-to-work law making union membership voluntary and attracting investment to the state.
In response, unions vowed in ads to “remember in November.” They spent heavily to defeat conservative legislators across the Midwest. In Michigan, they funded a ballot proposal to preemptively ban right-to-work and make collective bargaining a state constitutional right. The measure would allow union contracts to override state law, voiding all Snyder’s reforms.
Their efforts failed. Even as Midwesterners voted to reelect Obama, they also voted against the union-backed candidates. Michigan voters rejected making collective-bargaining powers a “right” by a 58–42 margin. Michigan Republicans also held onto their majorities in the legislature. In Wisconsin, Republicans aligned with Governor Walker’s agenda retook the state senate. Republicans expanded their margins in Indiana to better than two-thirds of the legislature. Ohio Republicans also expanded their legislative majority.
There were some dark spots — California voters rejected a paycheck-protection proposal. But in states where conservatives enacted labor reforms, voters decided to stay the course. Conservatives should take this lesson to heart: Even some of Obama’s supporters do not want the government run to benefit unions.
James Sherk is senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in National Review Online's The Corner.
Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 200,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2014, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973