Open thread: Election night in Virginia and Ohio; Update: Ohio collective bargaining law defeated; Update: Mississippi "personhood" initiative fails

The polls close at 7 p.m. ET in VA and at 7:30 in OH. You already know what the main event is on tonight’s card and you already know which way it’s likely to go. Expect a cameo from the Melting Bunny of Doom — and probably early, based on the polling.

Why has the collective-bargaining battle gone so badly for Kasich when it’s gone reasonably well for Walker? Lefty magazine Mother Jones has four theories, but here’s the smoking gun:

After Republicans passed Walker’s budget repair bill, Wisconsinites triggered recall elections targeting nine state senators—three GOPers who backed the bill and three Democratic state senators who fled the state to block the measure. When the dust settled, spending in the nine elections reached a staggering $43.9 million, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks money in state politics. Left-leaning groups outspent their right-leaning rivals $23.4 million to $20.5 million. That advantage was enough to oust two Republicans, but not enough to flip the state Senate majority back to Democrats.

Ohio is a different story. Here, labor unions have outmuscled pro-SB 5 groups in the money game. Labor-backed We Are Ohio raised $30.5 million and spent nearly $20 million of that through October 20. Building a Better Ohio, the flagship pro-SB 5 group, raised just $7.6 million and spent around $6 million over the same period.

I wonder how those numbers would have looked if the left had knocked off Prosser and taken back the Senate in Wisconsin, leaving conservatives nationally energized for revenge in Ohio. Ah well.

The consolation prizes tonight are likely to come from (a) Ohio’s other ballot referendum, Issue 3, which would stick a finger in the eye of ObamaCare by banning mandatory enrollment in any state health-care plan and (b) Virginia, where the GOP needs to net two seats to take back the senate and turn a purple state fully red. Also worth watching is Prop 26 in Mississippi, which would undercut Roe v. Wade by granting “personhood” to any fertilized egg; we haven’t had a serious Supreme Court challenge to Roe in almost 20 years, so we’re about due.

You’ll find live AP results for both Ohio referendums here and for the Virginia senate here. I haven’t found a live page for Mississippi results yet but will update when I do.

Update: And here’s the live page for Prop 26.

Update: In case you’ve never used it before, Ballotpedia is a nifty resource on election night for quickie background on key races. Bookmark it for future reference, but I’ll save you some time and give you the links right here for Ohio’s Issue 2 and Issue 3, Mississippi’s Prop 26, and the Virginia state senate. A choice excerpt from that last item to help guide you while watching the AP’s results page:

The following are races to watch in the 2011 elections that will likely dictate partisan control.

District 20 Current District 19 incumbent Bill Stanley (R) was drawn into District 20. Stanley faces Democratic incumbent Roscoe Reynolds. More than $1 million has been raised for this race as of October 2011. Reynolds was first elected in 1997.[1]

District 36 Former GOP chairman Jeff Frederick is hoping to unseat incumbent Linda Todd “Toddy” Puller (D).[2]

District 38 GOP challenger Adam Light will face off against incumbent Phillip Puckett (D).

Update: With just a quarter of precincts reporting and the margin at 37/63, the AP’s calling it in Ohio. A huge defeat for Kasich. I wonder what this means now for the Walker recall effort: Will labor try to capitalize on the momentum or will they back off, having already won a big victory they can tout?

The good news? They’ve also called it for Issue 3, the health-care initiative. That’s good news, but there’s no escaping the bunny. It’s time.

Update: A surprise in Mississippi: Even in a deep red state, the personhood initiative is going down hard. Via Philip Klein, here’s an interesting vid from a pro-life group (in Wisconsin) making the case against “personhood” measures.