By David Zanotti, CEO, The American Policy Roundtable
Partisans and pundits heralded the 2011 Ohio election as a “bell weather indicator” of the 2012 election to come. Ohio voters may have thrown the pundits a bit of a surprise. On Election night Ohio voters threw out Issue 2, a collective bargaining reform bill but at the same time issued a resounding rebuke to Obamacare.
Issue 2 was a referendum against a statute passed by the legislature. Big labor gathered and paid for the petition drive and the ballot campaign. The collective bargaining statute they were protesting was 300-pages long. Ohio voters have a long tradition of voting “No” on any measure that is not clearly presented and well understood. People did not know what was in the statute. Both sides amplified this voter confusion by spending millions on negative commercials. The issue was doomed from the start and the Republicans walked into this defeat with an amazing lack of clarity. In spite of all the above, 39% of voters supported the collective bargaining reforms in Issue 2. A clear 61% rejected Issue 2 and sent it resounding defeat.
Issue 3 was a constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by citizen petition. It was a referendum on Obamacare seeking to exempt Ohioans from mandatory nationalized health care. Granted this is a symbolic approach given that federal law trumps state laws and Ohio is not exactly a bastion of states rights advocacy. The fact the measure passed is remarkable in such a pro-union turnout model, especially since the pro-Issue 3 campaign had no money to spend. That Issue 3 passed with a higher majority (66% for) than the defeat of Issue 2 (61%) is even more substantive. In other words, there was a 5% greater animosity toward Obamacare in the Ohio electorate than the animus toward Governor Kasich’s collective bargaining reforms. In this off election year where union turnout dominated the day, Issue 3 passed in all 88 Ohio counties.
Said another way, 34% of Ohio voters favored Obamacare while 39% of Ohioans favored the collective bargaining reforms. Thus, the pro-union, anti-Kasich turnout on November 8, 2011 is even more distrusting of the current nationalized health care plan than collective bargaining reforms.
Governor Kasich and his allies got their clocks cleaned on Issue 2 on November 8th. If this election is an indicator of things to come, however, the 2012 election may actually become a referendum on Obamacare. Not even the pro-union crowd in Ohio seems to like that idea.
David Zanotti serves as CEO of The American Policy Roundtable an independent, non-profit, non-partisan education and research organization that has been active in Ohio public policy and ballot issues since 1980.