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Tuesday's results serve as springboard for 2012

Published: Thu, November 10, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.




Proponents and opponents of collective-bargaining reform and federal health-care mandates are using Tuesday’s election results as a springboard into next year’s presidential election.

Voter turnout for the off-year election was at its highest in two decades.

And pollsters say their surveys leading up to Election Day were in line with the final double-digit margins on the major issues.

Here are a few other things you should know about Tuesday’s


1. Democrats in 2012

Democrats will use the rejection of Issue 2 as a launching point for their campaign against Republicans in presidential and state contests next year, including Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s expected run for the U.S. Senate.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said Wednesday that campaigns will target GOP lawmakers who voted “yes” on

Senate Bill 5.

“Next year ... all Republican candidates, whether they are running for the Statehouse or the White House, will have to answer the

basic question of whether or not they stood up for Ohio’s middle class over the last year,” he said. “Our Republican friends at the Statehouse who voted for Senate Bill 5 will have to answer for those votes today, tomorrow and through the course of the next cycle and


2. Republicans in 2012

Likewise, Republicans will use the passage of Issue 3 as a launching point for their campaign against President Barack Obama and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon.

In a released statement, state party chairman Kevin DeWine said, “The people of our state sent a message today that they want common-sense reform, not onerous job-threatening mandates that will increase costs for small businesses, and raise health-care premiums and taxes on the backs of seniors and working class Ohioans.”

He added, “Ohio’s reputation as the quintessential bellwether state is well-earned; and our formal rejection of Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement only further underscores the uphill battle the president and Sherrod Brown presently face on their path to re-election in 2012.”

3. Voter Turnout

More than 3.5 million of the state’s 7.7 million registered voters participated in Tuesday’s election, a turnout rate of 46 percent, according to the secretary of state’s preliminary count.

That’s the highest percentage turnout during an odd-year election since 1991, when 51.26 percent of voters cast ballots.

The highest turnouts were in Geauga, Ottawa, Noble and Putnam counties, which topped 55 percent. The lowest was in Athens County, with about 32 percent. In 28 counties, at least half of registered voters cast ballots.

4. Final Margins

About 2 million (62 percent) voters opposed Issue 1, which would have extended the mandatory retirement age for judges. About 1.2 million (38 percent) supported it. The number of voters opposed outnumbered the number of supporters in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

More than 2.1 million voters (61 percent) voted to stop Issue 2, while close to 1.4 million (39 percent) supported it. In six counties, voters who supported Issue 2 outpaced those who opposed it. The opposite was true in the rest of the counties in the state.

The final margins on Issue 3, a tea party-backed effort to block health-care mandates from taking effect in the state, were a bit wider, with more than 2.2 million (66 percent) of voters supporting it and close to 1.2 million (34 percent) of voters opposed. The number of supporters outnumbered opponents in all of Ohio’s counties.

5. Polling Accuracy

The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute threw out a quick “told-you-so” Wednesday, after the margin in Tuesday’s election came close to its projections.

The Connecticut-based institute regularly gauges Ohioans’ opinions of candidates and issues.

It’s polling on Senate Bill 5 throughout the campaign was consistent in showing voters opposed the legislation, with 25-point margin between opponents and proponents in its last poll before Election Day. The final results Tuesday night had a 22-point margin.

6. White House Response

Tuesday’s defeat of Issue 2 prompted written congratulations from Vice President Joe Biden: “Fundamental fairness has prevailed. By standing with teachers and firefighters and cops, Ohio has sent a loud and clear message that will be heard all across the country: The middle class will no longer be trampled on.”

7. Future Consideration

Statehouse chatter in recent weeks has suggested that Republicans would move forward with portions of Senate Bill 5 that voters approve — namely requirements for the percentages public employees pay toward their health insurance and pensions.

But it doesn’t sound like future collective- bargaining reform is on a fast track.

“When a fella falls down the stairs, the next time he’ll turn on a light,” Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder said Wednesday in response to a question about whether his chamber would handle future legislative reform attempts differently. “We have no intention at this time of doing anything about any of those [Senate Bill 5] issues in the House of Representatives.”

8. Referendums

Batchelder, Senate President Tom Niehaus and Gov. John Kasich were asked on Tuesday night whether the results of Issue 2 affected their governance, given the referendums against Senate Bill 5, GOP-backed election law changes and the Republican congressional redistricting plan .

“We have a political party in Ohio that apparently doesn’t believe in some of the premises upon which our government was established,” Batchelder said. “So they’re going to question things [with referendums], that’s their business of course. They have a right to do that. I think at one point sooner or later the public will become unhappy with that, and for good reason.”

9. Legal Challenges

Opponents of Issue 3 said the overwhelming approval of the tea party-backed constitutional amendment wouldn’t be the last word on health-care mandates in Ohio.

In a released statement, Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage said the issue will “likely generate numerous lawsuits at taxpayer’s expense. Depending on court interpretation, Issue 3 could tie the hands of our lawmakers and put the future of important public health programs in the hands of lawyers and judges.”

And Dale Butland, spokesman for the main campaign group that opposed Issue 3, added, “In time, Ohioans will be forced to fix or repeal this amendment.”

10. Judge Ages

As was the case throughout the campaign, there was little comment on Issue 1 after its defeat, though Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor said Wednesday she hoped Ohioans would eventually reconsider the state’s judicial age limit.

In a released statement, she said, “Issue 1 would have been a step in the right direction for age equality in Ohio, but progress sometimes takes time. I understand the hesitation people have to make a policy change like this. I hope we continue to move toward a world where arbitrary age limits are not placed on public service, and the only thing that matters is a citizen’s ability to serve.”

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