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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dionne: Ohio GOP ditched ‘claims to philosophical seriousness’

Some observations from Washington Post syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. about the “Ohio GOP’s Scam Referendum”:

When you do everything you can to rig an election and still lose, you have a problem. Voters in Ohio told the state’s Republican Party on Tuesday that it has a big problem, and they sent that message to the GOP nationwide.

The outcome is also a major challenge for opponents of abortion. They might come to see the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade not as the victory they celebrated in 2022 but as the decisive moment when the politics of the issue turned against them.

The combination of hypocrisy and opportunism proved too much for most Ohioans, who defeated the GOP legislature’s referendum proposal that would have made it far more difficult for future electorates to change the state’s constitution. Even though the state voted for Donald Trump by eight points in 2020, a majority refused to accept the Republicans’ invitation to throw away its own power.

Issue 1, as the referendum was known, would have raised the margin required to amend the state’s constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent. Despite the GOP’s claims to the contrary, the measure was clearly designed to head off a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights on November’s ballot. Polls show that abortion rights command majority support in Ohio, as they did in other red states such as Kansas and Kentucky. Reaching 60 percent, however, would have been difficult.

But if Issue 1’s defeat was a statement about abortion rights, it was also a harsh judgment against the anti-majoritarian politics that Republicans are practicing in many states they control. Their methods include highly partisan gerrymanders, efforts to make it harder for some groups to cast ballots (particularly Black and younger voters), and state takeovers of election administration in Democratic cities.

Dionne continues with more vivid detail and quotes Katie Paris, founder of Red Wine and Blue, a group that organizes for Democratic-leaning suburban women: “They tried to change the rules because they are losing with existing ones,” she told me, referring to the outcomes of abortion-related referendums in other Republican states. “It was an overreach by the legislature’s Republican supermajority.”

Read more of Dionne’s column here.

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