The result was a rollback of key union-busting legislation by an expansive labor partnership of teachers, police and firefighters drawing support from outside state lines. Ohio residents are left to ponder the budget and tax implications.

Republicans did prevail in rejecting Obama’s key health care insurance mandate, a measure far less interesting to union supporters. Count one win for the unions and a loss that won’t bother the president.

In Mississippi, known for its historical conservatism -- the gubernatorial candidates of both parties supported the “personhood” amendment defeated by voters -- a Republican was elected to follow another Republican governor, while legislative pickups were eked out with minimal votes. Count one win and too many squeakers in what should’ve been a wave year.

Moreover, in Maine, a Republican-controlled statewide leadership couldn’t stop voters from overturning their new legislation limiting same-day voter registration.

Previous GOP efforts have been more innovative and less incoherent.  In 2010, then-Republican Governors Association Chairman Haley Barbour pioneered strategic funding operations to pick up 11 governorships. In that same election cycle, the Tea Party was itself an innovation. Tea Party primaries strengthened the conservative budget message and organized grassroots supporters, the very means by which GOP candidates won by large margins in House and state legislative races.   

In 2008, the Democrats were innovative. The Chicago political machine provided the brain trust, defeating then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) in the Democratic primary, and then racking up general election victories up and down the ballot. The Obama 2008 campaign pioneered new social media techniques for organizing communities of voters, while union allies provided the brawn.

The GOP must take note. Facing a major political hurdle in 2012, it’s time to expand the Republican cabal and exorcise a ghost in the party machine.  

Dr. Dora Kingsley is founder of Trenton West, a national policy and opposition research firm based in California and Washington, D.C. As an adjunct professor with the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning and Development, Kingsley has taught graduate coursework for sixteen years and is a lifetime fellow of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Public Administration.