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2011 Year in Review

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Voters Reject Conservative-Backed Measures

Because 2011 was an off-year election, the only Congressional seats in contention were for special elections. On the state level, there were four gubernatorial races. Three states held judicial elections, while four had state legislative elections. There were also various mayoral races and initiatives across the country.

In general, voters rejected conservative-backed measures. An anti-abortion measure in Mississippi, an anti-labor law in Ohio, and a measure to clampdown on voting rights in Maine were all voted down. Mississippi, one of the most conservative states, sparked national debate with the proposed "personhood" amendment or Initiative 26. Initiative 26 would have defined life in the state's Constitution "to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

Overall, voters supported incumbent officials on city and state levels. Mayors won re-election bids in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Baltimore. In Iowa, after a strong push, Republicans failed to take over the state senate. In the four gubernatorial races, none changed party hands. Two incumbents were re-elected: Kentucky's Steve Beshear and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal. Mississippi's Republican Governor Haley Barbour had reached his term limit in office. He was succeeded by Republican Phil Bryant. West Virginia had a special election on October 4th after Democratic Governor Joe Manchin resigned. Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin replaced Manchin as West Virginia's Governor.

It's difficult to say what, if anything, the 2011 results reveal about next year's battle for the White House. Voters largely showed support for incumbents on the state and city level, while they voted against extreme initiatives. That outcome could suggest that while voters desire change and results, they also want to stick with familiar candidates in a still very uncertain economy.

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Did you know?
"Mississippi" comes from an Indian word meaning "Father of Waters."

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