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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ohio Vote Kills GOP Plan to Weaken Abortion Rights and Democracy

There are lots of good reports about yesterday’s vote in Ohio on the Republican plan to undermine both reproductive rights and democracy in the state. But Howard Wilkinson’s “Ohio’s GOP just learned voters are not as gullible as they think” at wxvu.org explains it with panache:

Nice try, Ohio GOP.

Issue 1, the incredibly bad deal you were offering Ohioans, failed miserably.

A solid majority could not figure out why, for heaven’s sake, they would agree to allow 41% of voters to shoot down an idea for a state constitutional amendment.

The 60% threshold was a miserable flop; and so too was another piece of Issue 1, which would have made it nearly impossible for any citizen-driven initiative to get on the ballot.

And the only thing you accomplished was to make Ohio taxpayers foot the bill for an August special election and waste the tens of millions of dollars both sides spent on this pointless campaign.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, the GOP measure was defeated by nearly 14 percent. Calling the vote a “GOP disaster,” Wilkinson adds, “Kyle Kondik, an Ohio native with the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said “This is a classic example of the old saying in politics, ‘pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered.’ ”

This was an election that never should have happened. In fact, last December, the Republicans in the Ohio legislature did away with August elections altogether.

[Republican Secretary of State Frank] LaRose was all in favor of that. But when it became clear that the only way they could stop the November abortion rights amendment was with the 60% ballot initiative, he was all for the legislation to hold an Aug. 8 special election.

A coalition of over 250 organizations from across the political spectrum in Ohio were busy declaring victory early Tuesday night.

In recent years, Ohio has morphed into a reddish state. Democrat Sherrod Brown still holds a U.S. Senate seat, but he has a tough re-election campaign for November 2024. However, this vote shows the power of coalition building for Democrats, as well as the folly of the GOP’s efforts to undermine democracy. Further,

The Ohio Democratic Party has become very good at getting people out since the Obama wave of 2008. This special August election was no exception. It drew 642,000 early voters and the results skewed heavily Democratic.

The Ohio Republican Party has struggled in trying to convince its base to cast ballots early at the boards of elections or by mail. Republican voters tend to vote on Election Day, and that was the case in Tuesday’s results.

….The 60% threshold may be too high a bar for abortion rights groups to reach — although a USA Today/Suffolk University poll shows 58% support for abortion rights in Ohio.

….As odious as the 60% threshold was to opponents of Issue 1, the requirement about gathering petition signatures to place a constitutional amendment was even worse.

The standard since 1912 has been that petitioners have to gather the signatures of 5% of voters from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Issue 1 would apply that to all 88 counties, which proponents believe would give more power to Ohio’s smaller, rural and reliably Republican counties….It would mean that one county — one — out of 88 could effectively prevent any proposed constitutional amendment, good or bad, from reaching the ballot.

Also this:

The most effective tool the One Person/One Vote campaign came from an unknown source — a meme that went viral on social media a month or so ago that made the issue plain and simple, and probably had a big impact on undecided voters or voters who were having a hard time understanding what exactly Issue 1 would do.

It was very simple: A box which showed the score of a fictional football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines. The score said, “Ohio State 59, Michigan 41.”

Then it pointed out that, under Issue 1, the team with 41 points would be declared the winner.

Simple and understandable.

And a gut punch for anyone who roots for the Buckeyes.

But not nearly the gut punch this election turned out to be for the Ohio GOP.


The Republicans have deployed football metaphors in politics for ages. They must be grinding their teeth at being creamed by Dems using one so creatively in a football-crazy state.

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