* Is labor headed for a big victory in Ohio? In two weeks, Ohio voters will vote on a measure to repeal GOP governor John Kasich’s new law rolling back collective bargaining rights of public employees. Coming after a bruising, months-long showdown in Wisconsin, the Ohio vote is shaping up as a referendum on whether national conservatives can deliver another hard blow to labor’s influence smack in the middle of the industrial heartland.

For unions, a win would be particularly sweet. It would challenge the conventional narrative that the failure to take back the state senate in Wisconsin proved that labor is headed for irreversible decline.

And it looks like a win is now in sight, if this morning’s Quinnipiac poll is any indication. The new poll finds that Ohio voters now support repeal by 25 points, 57-32 — almost doubling the margin from last month. Independents support repeal 56-32, and almost every demographic group also backs it. Crucially, even a majority of non-union households supports repeal.

The question is whether this strong shift is linked to the broader resurgence of left-wing populism we’re seeing on other fronts.

* Advice that Obama should not take: Relatedly, David Brooks advises Obama to abandon his new populism, on the grounds that ... people hate government. Brooks says he risks losing independents (even though they support Obama’s jobs policies, including higher taxes on the rich, and tell pollsters they want Obama to fight the GOP harder). Brooks urges him instead to return to his posture as the Great Conciliator (even though indys disapproved of the debt ceiling deal he secured and didn’t seem to care that he had managed to win a compromise).

It’s odd that Brooks thinks Obama’s new populism is based on a fundamental misreading of the mood of the country, given recent events, and given what multiple polls have shown in recent weeks. I’d argue that Brooks is misreading Obama’s political dilemma. People will not give Obama credit for trying — and failing — to find compromise with Republicans. Obama’s problem is that Republicans may perversely benefit from blocking his jobs policies — even though they have public support. The resulting government dysfunction, and the continuing crisis, may help Republicans politically, because voters aren’t focused on why government is failing to address or fix the economy. Rather than blame Republicans for blocking popular jobs policies, voters may simply decide Obama is too ineffective to get them passed, and hold him accountable for the whole mess. After all, he runs the place.

Obama’s challenge is to break that dynamic. Aggressively challenging Republicans and Congress in general to act, while speaking directly to Americans about economic and tax fairness, is his best hope of persuading them that Republicans are the ones blocking progress on the economy — and of rising above the Congressional dysfunction that is feeding voter cynicism about government’s ability to fix the crisis.

* Rick Perry rolls out what he calls an economic plan: Here it is: Institute a flat tax and Balanced Budget Amendment, repeal the “death tax,” “Obamacare” and Wall Street reform, and watch a thousand economic flowers bloom.

* Obama campaign to cast GOP as foe of middle class: The Obama camp is already out with a new memo seizing on Perry’s flat tax proposal to cast Republicans as enemies of progressive taxation, raising taxes on the middle class in order to lower them on the rich.

As I’ve been saying, the confluence of a series of events — the Obama jobs push; Warren Buffett’s tax crusade; Elizabeth Warren’s Senate candidacy; the Occupy Wall Street protests — is pushing tax fairness, among other issues, to the forefront of the conversation and ensuring that the topic will be absolutely central in 2012.

* Rick Perry, 2.0: Perry is retooling his campaign and launching the new tax plan as part of a broader effort to persuade the political classes and voters that he’s taking serious steps to reverse his plummet in the polls.

* Rick Perry’s birtherism, ctd: If Perry’s relaunch is all about reclaiming the role of “populist conservative outsider,” it seems that he intends to do this by doubling down on his birther flirtation:

“It’s a good issue to keep alive. It’s fun to poke at him.”

As Jonathan Bernstein wrote yesterday, the question here is whether Romney, too, will be able to avoid embracing the crazy.

* Can Dems take back the House?The DCCC is bringing over 100 of its candidates to D.C. today for “training” in messaging and media managing, and Dems are hoping the sheer diversity and range of the candidates they’re fielding will give them a chance at netting the 25 seats they need to regain the majority.

* The power of Occupy Wall Street: Katrina Vanden Heuvel explains it very well:

The Occupy movement, or the “99 percent movement,” has captured the imagination and opened up a space for political deliberation that had only too recently been drowned out by manufactured crises. These protests around the globe have reshaped the political landscape in the U.S. and other parts of the world. The power of the Occupy movement does not lie in specific demands, as I’ve argued, but in “super-charging” energy for a coalition of different progressive groups fighting to change the status quo and tackle establishment interests and power.

* The right’s “represhensible” falsehoods about Occupy Wall Street: Try as he might, Richard Cohen can’t find any evidence of the right’s bogus charge that OWS is “anti-semitic,” and pronounces the right’s campaign against the movement “reprehensible.”

What else is happening?