Here’s what the Issue 2 map looks like:


[Update:] Final numbers from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office shows that 46% of registered voters cast a ballot last night.  In comparison, 49% cast a vote in 2010 election.  Last night was the highest turnout for an off-year election in at least 20 years in Ohio.  Turnout was higher than expected, but so much for the idea that the polls oversampled Democrats.

The most southern “green county” is Shannon Jones’ Warren County.  Warren-Butler-Clermont Counties is the belt of > 60%  GOP performance counties that the GOP regularly uses to neutralize Cuyahoga County’s heavy Democratic performance.  Last night, John Kasich’s Issue 2 did carry one of these, but with less than 52% of the vote.  Issue 2 only won Warren County with roughly 2,200 votes.  Once again, that’s Shannon Jones’ home county.  Her husband was on the ballot in a township trustee race.  He lost.  The husband of the Senate Majority Whip lost an election in the deep red Warren County where Issue 2 barely passed.

Hey, Toledo Mike Bell, you better hope voters forget your support for Issue 2.  Lucas County went 67% to 33% last night.   Ouch!  Apparently, the folks back home weren’t moved any more by your endorsement than the rest of the State was. At least it wasn’t as bad as it could have been for you, over 80% of the voters in Athens County voted against Issue 2.

Where did Kasich spend the final day of the campaign?  Rallying supports in the other two GOP stalwarts Butler and Clermont Counties.  Again, these are counties where GOP candidates and issues are routinely expected to run up the score to neutralize Democratic counties.  Issue 2 was defeated in the two GOP counties Kasich ended the campaign by visiting.  More importantly, not just John Kasich and Building a Better Ohio, but Citizens United’s only media buy was in the Cincinnati media market, with an ad that focused entirely on the Cincinnati Enquirer’s endorsement of Issue 2.

Maybe this was an attempt to make State Senator Bill Seitz and conservative talk radio host Willie Cunningham look politically irrelevant, but it didn’t work.  Issue 2 did poorly in Southwestern Ohio.  Bill Seitz/Willie Cunningham won last night, and any third-party group that spent money to support Issue 2 wasted their money.

Which brings me to…

The irrelevancy of newspaper endorsements

Building a Better Ohio made much to do about getting the endorsements of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Columbus Dispatch.

Here’s the splits on Issue 2 for those counties:

  • Cuyahoga: 31% (endorsed position)/69% (against endorsed position).
  • Franklin: 36%/64%.
  • Hamilton: 42%/58%.

The Dispatch and Plain Dealer saw their endorsed position perform substantially worse in their home counties than they did overall.  How is endorsing a position that is opposed by roughly two-thirds of your customer base smart business?

Let’s also not forget that it was many of these media outlets who called labor “foolish” for risking an all-or-nothing political gamble on a referendum campaign, even as polls at the time showed them with twenty-point leads.  That was the main argument for a compromise… because Issue 2 was too divisive.  Issue 2 won by almost the same margin as Ted Strickland did against Ken Blackwell in 2006.  Nobody called Strickland’s election “divisive” with those numbers.

Keep in mind, there wasn’t a single newspaper in Ohio that endorsed Issue 3, either.  There is nothing in the 2011 results to suggest that these endorsement brought about anything but cancelled subscriptions.

I was wrong.

kasich.jpgI’ll admit it.  I never, ever thought we’d see an election result as strong as we were seeing in the Quinnipiac and PPP poll, and apparently neither did Capt. Sunshine to the right over here.  Issue 2 was defeated by a nearly whopping 23-point margin.  Regardless of the margin, last night was historic as no Governor of Ohio has ever seen voters repeal any portion of their agenda within the first year in office.  First, the ability of anyone to pull off a referendum so early in a new Governor’s term is itself incredibly rare.  Second, this is the only time it worked.  So even a one-vote victory for We Are Ohio would have been historic.  A twenty-point margin, by comparison, just looked like overkill.

But in my defense, if I had told you that more Ohioans in 2011, an off-year election, will vote against Issue 2 than the number of Ohioans who voted for Kasich in 2010, would you believe that?  Except that’s true.  No on Issue 2 got roughly a quarter of a million more votes than John Kasich did in 2010.  How can Kasich argue he has any mandate on collective bargaining reform when No on Issue 2 received more votes than he’s ever gotten?  That’s the new problem for those few legislative Republicans who still want to revisit collective bargaining reform.  I don’t think we’ve ever seen an issue so definitively tied to a Governor defeated with more votes than that Governor had gotten in their most recent election, either.  That may be a feat never repeated again.  And yet, there are still “pundits” who say Kasich can recover by 2014… although they will probably now say that such things are less probable than they used to suggest.

A twenty-three point margin is precisely what PPP predicted and within the margin of error of what Quinnipiac predicted. (Although it should be said that PPP was wildly off the mark as it related to Issue 3).  But the larger point is this: How can any Republican see this result and claim a mandate to revisit collective bargaining for a SB 5 redux?

Personhood Amendment still coming to Ohio?

Last night, voters in Mississippi were asked to pass a proposed constitutional amendment declaring that a human fertilized egg constitutes a legal person subject to legal protections.  It was endorsed by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and both parties’ gubernatorial candidates.  It failed miserably.  Efforts have already been underway to try to put a similar issue on the 2012 ballot in Ohio.  That was one of the issues we were told to expect next cycle.

But with the repeal of Senate Bill 5 and the fact it didn’t even pass in Mississippi, why would they try something that radical here in Ohio?

If Pro-Life forces were politically smart, they’d look at the defeat of Issue 2 in Ohio and the defeat of a similar measure in culturally conservative Mississippi and conclude that they don’t want to make a negative political precedent for their movement in Ohio.

What does this mean going forward?

Waiting in the wings already for the 2012 election is the referendum on HB 194.  That’s a referendum which will be voted on during a presidential election year in which voters will be asked whether to repeal legislation that rolled back their own personal rights that made it easier for them to vote early.  In other words, an issue where they already have skin in the game and are asked about it when voters are most concerned about voters’ rights.  After the overwhelming defeat of Issue 2 this year, how hard is it to expect voters will find the same legislature overreached here, too? 

Back to collective bargaining, though.  There was expectation that Kasich and the Statehouse Republicans would talk about revisiting Issue 2 next year but in a limited fashion.  Some thought maybe they’d just exempt the public safety forces from changes.  It seemed to depend on the result.

After the twenty-three point drubbing Issue 2 took, the Republicans could get by politically with perhaps passing the 15% cap on insurance premiums and 10% contribution to pensions.  But that’s hardly much of an achievement since the reason those provisions were “popular” is because that mandate is already being largely met, so it’s not a change for most union members.  That’s about as far as the GOP can feel relatively safe going, but even then they still risk a backlash from being seen as attempting to re-enact any portion of SB 5 after such a lopsided loss.  Again, where’s the mandate for collective bargaining reform?  Newspaper editorials like today’s Plain Dealer?  How much political advantage did those editorials help give you last night again?

The real question is what is the lasting damage done to Kasich from this defeat?  You can kiss the heartbeat abortion bill goodbye.  No way is the GOP legislative leadership taking on something that controversial after getting slapped by voters over Issue 2.  Expect some “I like sunshine and puppies” legislation to move to the forefront soon as the Republican legislature hurries to improve its imagine before the 2012 elections.

But what about the media?  Some, like the Dispatch, had bought into the notion that SB 5 wasn’t really Kasich’s bill, and that somehow Shannon Jones had jumped the gun.  (Kasich loyalists even had the National Review write that Husted worked with Jones on putting all of collective bargaining reform into one bill.)

But now, after the fact, we see just how deeply and intimately Kasich was involved in the bill drafting.  Shortly before the election, the Toledo Blade reported it was Kasich’s office that decided to put the ban on “fair share” fees and limits on labor’s PAC contribution collection efforts into the House version of the bill.  Today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:

And when it appeared it did not have enough votes to clear the Senate, Kasich began lobbying senators individually in private meetings in his office. He eventually helped get the measure the one-vote margin it needed to clear the Senate. The more conservative House was an easier sell.

The media has caught Kasich lying to them, which is far worse than him lying to you or me.  This could make things increasingly more difficult for Kasich in the future.

The only thing a Governor can really do to convince a nervous or skeptical legislator to support a piece of legislation is that he can make sure the politician will be safe from any major political repercussions from supporting the bill.


This map is going to have plenty of Republicans in the legislature less accomodating the next time Kasich comes calling.  There aren’t many House districts that you can say a Yes vote on SB 5 wasn’t rebuked last night.  Kind of hard to draw a map giving the GOP a majority where Issue 2 prevailed what with it passing in only six counties (most of them barely.)

Frank LaRose can rest assured that he still has until 2014 to face the voters again… of course, that is also when voters will finally have the ability to vote against Kasich directly, and not by proxy, again.  So, maybe that’s not such a good thing.

John Kasich was only elected with 49% of the vote.  He still only has an approval rating stuck in the 30s.  A clear majority of Ohioans disapprove of him.  Party loyalty can only get you so far.  There was a limit on Kasich’s political capital among even his fellow Republicans in the legislature.  He spent a considerable amount of it on SB 5. 

Kasich political capital

The voters just said he spent that capital for a failed effort.  But he doesn’t get that capital back to re-spend anew.  It’s gone.  If you’re a Republican on the ballot in 2012 after last night, do you really want to do something that easily frames you as a rubber stamp for John Kasich?  Look at that map again.

Kasich is going to have plenty of time to work on reinventing himself since there’s no way the national Republicans will want Kasich anywhere near the ‘12 Presidential nominee in Ohio next year.

  • Anonymous

    The next thing we have to watch is school vouchers and the “funding follows the student.” They will try to starve the beast of public education by stealing public funds to support private institutions.

  • noting has ever been “given” the worker without the Unions. My grandfather died in a nonunion mine and all his family got was his lunch box returned to them,

  • I`m worrying! Really worry what happend next!! Maybe something bad!! who know!

  • I, for one, am looking forward to some sunshine and puppy bills. 
    In seriousness, however, I would not be surprised if they do try personhood here. I think the electoral progressive zeitgeist is worn out from SB5.

  • I wish I could write as well as you, great post!

  • Slapshot

    As a firefighter and 4th generation union member, I can’t thank you guys enough for all your work and coverage of this issue. I will be donating to your site and will encourage others to do so, especially since I think was a battle and not the war. Thanks again.

  • Sluggo

    This line from the PD article is the best:

    Faber, who argued in favor of Issue 2 at a half dozen debates before the
    election, said lawmakers should not hesitate to pursue collective
    bargaining reform again, despite the intense opposition from labor
    groups and Democrats.

    I think it would be hard to be more politically tone deaf.  When these guys look at the precinct data, if they are smart,  more than a few senators should be telling Faber to STFU.

  • WestParkGuy

    The Plain Dealer editorial board is now backpedaling. Their editorial today is now blasting Kasich and the GOP. They are using words like “heavy handed”, “class warfare”, and “tone-deaf”.

    I guess there is nothing like losing more subscribers and watching an Issue you overwhelming supported get blown out of the water, to make someone say “hmmm, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea”

  • Jwizzler

    Don’t fool yourself, Craig. Kasich will be against any future sunshine and puppy bills. He is more of a moonlight and wolf guy. 

  • WestParkGuy

    I love Kevin DeWine, he is the Michael Steele of the Ohio GOP. I love his quote “Looking at 2012, one way or the other, it’s not going to be about Senate Bill 5”

    I think that DeWine forgot that the GOP front runners went out of their way, some more directly than others, to publicly support SB5. Do you think that Ohio’s Firemen and Police will just forget about who supported SB5 next year?

    Keep it up Kevin, you and Kasich are doing a heck of a job!

  • Learn a lesson from this John? Look at your Republicant’s peers in Governors positions. The Republicant governors who are doing the better PR job are the ones who work WITH their Democratic legislators, not AT them.

  • Learn a lesson from this John? Look at your Republicant’s peers in Governors positions. The Republicant governors who are doing the better PR job are the ones who work WITH their Democratic legislators, not AT them.

  • Anonymous

    Dmoore2222 has a very valid point. Kasich, the bullying weasel, has to be held in check for the next three years. That’s a long time. Also, as Dmoore pointed out, Kasich has some major corporate owned newspapers in his pocket to help cover for him. Last night was a significant victory, but the war ain’t over. He’s still in office.

  • Anonymous

    The layoffs have already begun, and not because of SB 5, but because of Kasich’s huge cuts to local governments.  Ask about the police in Mt. Sterling – laid off.  Look at Ohio’s unemployment rate – after falling for 14 straight months, it is now rising or even every month since the passage of Kasich’s budget.  Kasich claimed last night he has brought in 41,000 new jobs to Ohio.  Whoop de do – I also see he did not mention any particulars about those “jobs”.  He claimed he would bring back all those jobs lost under Strickland – I believe the figure he tossed around was 400,000.  So in one year, according to his own figures, he has brought in 1/10 of the jobs promised.  He has 3 years to bring in 360,000 jobs. 

  • Anonymous

    I have heard Kasich’s name bandied about as a possible VP nominee in 2012.  Now his name is toxic to any GOP Prez. hopeful. 

  • Anonymous

    hope we can use the momentum to get the gerrymandering overturned now.  that will be the real divisive issue and it will be a better indicator on whether self interest can overcome tribe and party loyalties.  

  • WestParkGuy

    Well it looks like the Pro-Life forces aren’t very smart, now there’s a surprise.

    It looks like they still are planning on wasting some money in Ohio next year.

  • find someone with a referendum petition for HB-319 and get it signed
    Where can we find one?  

  • find someone with a referendum petition for HB-319 and get it signed
    Where can we find one?  

  • My dad was a railroader and didn’t have a vacation  until after WWII.  Their working conditions were extremely hazardous, from amputated limbs to being cut in half under train wheels.  He could leave for work one day and not come back for 3 or 4. He always told my Mom, if a guy in a suit comes to the door, don’t sign any papers. The companies always got liability signed away before the family even knew there was a wreck.  Like always corporations are all for us, the trickle down effect.  

  • very good post! need to say you did a great job and i really appreciate it!

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