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How Issue 1 won

Voters in Mahoning and Trumbull counties backed Issue 1, the abortion rights constitutional amendment, at essentially the same percentages as it received statewide.

Mahoning and Trumbull were among 23 counties ä including the most-populous ones ä that voted in favor of the issue.

The issue lost in Ohio’s other 65 counties, but several of them have populations smaller than the city of Youngstown. It’s like a presidential candidate winning Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Delaware, and losing California, New York and Texas.

In Mahoning and Trumbull, Issue 1 had its biggest wins in the most-populous cities and suburbs and lost in most rural parts.

But the abortion / reproduction rights amendment won in some places that have been reliably Republican.

The margins in most of those communities were not big, but it is still revealing that they backed the issue.

In Trumbull County, that included Gustavus, Champion, Braceville, Lordstown and Newton Township.

In Mahoning County, it won in the city of Canfield, Coitsville, Milton, Washingtonville and Sebring, and tied in New Middletown.

It was, though, the most-populous communities where it won big.

In Mahoning County, it won all 45 precincts in Youngstown, which has more residents than any other community in the Mahoning Valley. In won there by more than 4,700 votes.Of the county’s total vote in support of the issue, more than 19% of it came from Youngstown.

In Trumbull, it won all 26 precincts in Warren, the county’s most-populous community, and won the city by about 3,000 votes. Of Trumbull’s total vote in support of Issue 1, more than 15% came from Warren.

Mahoning, and especially Trumbull, have experienced a political shift from reliable Democratic counties. That started in the 2016 election that saw Donald Trump become only the third Republican presidential candidate to win Trumbull in 80 years. He nearly pulled that off in Mahoning in 2016.

Trump went on to win Mahoning and Trumbull in 2020, and Republicans have won elected positions in both counties with the GOP making larger gains in Trumbull.

However, among the executive branch in both counties, Republicans hold only one seat, auditor, in Mahoning and three, auditor and two commissioner spots, in Trumbull.

Trumbull voted for every Republican on the 2022 ballot and in Mahoning, the lone Democrat to win was Carol Rimedio-Righetti, a county commissioner who was seeking her fourth four-year term. She won by 0.14 of a percent.

The expectation is 2024 could be a good year for Republicans in both counties, with it appearing as though Trump will be on the ballot as the party’s presidential candidate again.

Despite the political shift, Issue 1 won both counties.

Why?

First, Democrats statewide and locally worked very hard for the issue, particularly helping in the cities.

The issue had a head start with polling showing a majority of Ohio voters supported abortion rights. Voters also soundly rejected a Republican-backed ballot issue during an Aug. 8 special election to raise the threshold to pass constitutional amendments in an effort to stop the abortion proposal from passing.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022 that sent the issue of a women’s right to choose an abortion back to the states, abortion rights has been a winner all over the country including in Kansas and Kentucky, which are both strong Republican states.

It’s impossible to ignore that those who supported Issue 1 raised and spent significantly more money than the opposition to get out their message and voters.

Perhaps the most important reason is the Republican-controlled state Legislature voted in 2019 on the so-called heartbeat law, which bans abortions after the detection of a heartbeat, typically around six weeks. The law was on hold until the Supreme Court decision and then in effect for a few months. A Hamilton County judge in September 2022 halted enforcement of the law, which will be moot shortly.

Republican leaders, including Gov. Mike DeWine, campaigned on Issue 1 being too extreme and that a compromise would be made if it was rejected. The reality is even if there was some movement, the heartbeat law was just that: law.

Tex Fischer, Mahoning County Republican Party first vice chairman, said: “If it was a ban after the first trimester, we would have seen a different outcome.”

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