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Yesterday’s elections marked several big blows for right-wing policies and politicians. E.J. Dionne writes in his new column, “The Right Wing’s 2011 Shellacking”:

This week’s elections around the country were brought to you by the word “overreach,” specifically conservative overreach. Given an opportunity in 2010 to build a long-term majority, Republicans instead pursued extreme and partisan measures. On Tuesday, they reaped angry voter rebellions.

The most important was in Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly defeated Gov. John Kasich’s bill to strip public employee unions of essential bargaining rights. A year ago, who would have predicted that standing up for the interests of government workers would galvanize and mobilize voters on this scale? Anti-labor conservatives have brought class politics back to life, a major threat to a GOP that has long depended on the ballots of white working-class voters and offered them nothing in return.

In Maine, voters exercised what that state calls a “people’s veto” to undo a Republican-passed law that would have ended same-day voter registration, which served Maine well for almost four decades. What’s often lost is that the conservative Republicans elected in 2010 aren’t simply pushing right-wing policies. Where they can, they are also using majorities won in a single election to manipulate future elections — by making it harder for young and minority voters to cast ballots, and by trying to break the political power of unions. The votes in Maine and Ohio were a rebuke to this strategy.

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The political world is still digesting Tuesday’s referendum vote in Kansas, where voters resoundingly rejected a proposed amendment that would have removed constitutional protections for abortion rights in this Republican-dominated state. The final result was not even close, with the pro-choice side winning 59 percent of the vote in the first direct political test of abortion rights since the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade over a month ago.

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