An astute newspaper reader — what other kind is there? — reacted to last week’s column about labor union members owing President Obama their votes with this question: “Why isn’t anyone talking about [Republican] Mitt Romney’s support of Senate Bill 5 last year?”
Poll after poll has shown that Obama’s re-election bid is in trouble because white, blue-collar males (union workers mostly) are ignoring the actions he has taken on their behalf and casting their votes for the GOP nominee for president.
If autoworkers at General Motors’ Lordstown plant who owe their jobs to the president don’t care about gratitude and fairness, perhaps they will view Tuesday’s election in terms of their own self-interest. To be sure, they are riding high now because Obama’s bailout of GM and Chrysler has not only given the companies new life, but they’re both reporting profits.
What if Romney is elected president?
Obama’s record in office, especially as it involves labor issues, is clear. Not so, Romney. He has criticized the president for using federal dollars to prevent GM and Chrysler from going under, but now insists that he was always in favor of Washington’s intervention. An opinion piece he wrote in the New York Times provides a different picture.
But, there’s no ambiguity when it comes to Romney’s position on the highly controversial collective bargaining measure pushed through by Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican majority in the General Assembly. Senate Bill 5 was designed to strip public employees of the collective bargaining rights they have enjoyed for more than three decades.
The law was blocked from taking effect after the public and private sector unions and Democrats placed the issue before the voters of Ohio last November. The rejection of the GOP’s attack on workers was overwhelming.
The referendum energized the union leadership, but the rank and file has not rushed to embrace Obama.
That’s why the astute reader believes Romney’s support for Senate Bill 5 deserves to be revisited.
Last October, the former governor of Massachusetts who was in Ohio campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, seemed to distance himself from anti-union measures around the country that were losing popularity.
But a day later in Virginia he told reporters he supported the Ohio ballot measure aimed at restricting collective bargaining rights for state employees.
“I’m sorry if I created any confusion in that regard,” Romney said. “I fully support Gov. [John] Kasich’s — I think it’s called Question Two in Ohio. Fully support that. Actually, on my website, I think back as early as April, I laid out that I support Question Two and Gov. Kasich’s effort to restrict collective bargaining in Ohio.”
With the Buckeye State a battleground — if not the battleground — in Tuesday’s election, Romney and the Republican Party are making an all-out bid for white, blue-collar voters who have traditionally supported Democratic candidates.
The turnout this year is not expected to be as high as it was in 2008 when Obama, whose election would make history, brought out large numbers of black and college-age voters. In Ohio, a total of 5.77 million voters (69.97 percent) went to the polls.
Obama received 51.5 percent (2.94 million) of the votes cast in the presidential race, while Republican John McCain received 46.91 percent (2.67 million). There were 12 other candidates on the ballot.
The lower turnout this year is not good news for Obama. Republicans vote in greater numbers than Democrats on election day.
And that poses a challenge for heavily Democratic counties like Mahoning and Trumbull.
In 2008, in Mahoning County, Obama received 62.2 percent of the 177,203 votes cast in the presidential contest; McCain received 35.6 percent.
In Trumbull, the Democratic nominee got 59.99 percent of the 106,911 votes; McCain, 37.56 percent.
In Columbiana County, 48,487 votes were cast of which McCain received 52.7 percent and Obama, 45.13 percent.
If the turnout in Mahoning and Trumbull counties is less than 2008, the president’s chances of re-election will be diminished.
Every vote counts.