New Orleans The Ohio vote on the efforts by the Republican-dominated legislature to raise the bar on initiative amendments to the constitution by citizens was an almost 3 to 2 beat down with the NO votes at over 1.7 million and the YES votes hardly 1.3 million. Conservatives had tried to pitch this vote to Ohioans in August, figuring low turnout would help them, but that was just one in a list of miscalculations the made. The biggest was trying to rig the deck by raising the bar for passage of any amendment to 60% from a simple majority in order to try and preempt the coming vote in November on whether or not to enshrine the right to choose in the constitution.
Many voters, especially including independents and even moderates, believe it is ok to have different opinions on abortion, but not necessarily to be sneaky about it and take away their right to be heard clearly one way or another. Others resisted the anti-democratic nature of Issue 1 which would also require signatures to come from all 88 counties in the future rather than half of that number now.
What does this vote say about either the prospects for a woman’s right to choose to win in November, and what does it say about the presidential election? The picture is a mixed bag. Looking at the map on how various counties voted, it is clear that urban and suburban areas powered the outcome, while more rural counties in Ohio, and a lot of them, voted for the measure.
On the abortion issue, Republicans are going to have to come to grips with the fact that they are batting with their foot in the bucket. More than 60% of Americans favor the right to choose, and even “57% of Republicans believe the procedure should be all or mostly legal.” In one red state after another, including places like Oklahoma and Kentucky, voters are pushing back in favor of choice by solid majorities. What Republican male legislators don’t seem to understand is that a lot of women and mothers want to make the decision for themselves and their families rather than giving the patriarchy the default position. As long as this issue continues to be on the ballot, it’s going to drive turnout and be a weapon for the Democrats at all levels.
Will the strength of that issue translate into the presidential election is a closer call. A lot of Republican candidates are dodging the bullet in spite of their record, in the case of Florida’s governor DeSantis. Former president Trump, the likely standard bearer, has been quiet on the issue, believing, correctly, that it could cost him votes. Reportedly, there are a number of efforts to put the question on the ballot, as it will be in Ohio, to drive turnout and votes for Biden. Maybe that will work, but in Ohio it may seem a settled matter, and currently the 22-week allowance is still in force. In states where voters have already passed measures, like Michigan, other issues than abortion will take precedence.
The victories on abortion measures are sweet and important. The Supreme Court has to be watching these vote counts as closely as the Republicans are since it underscores how out of touch they are on this issue, ethics, and so many others. Nonetheless, there’s nothing but hard work ahead. This is no silver bullet.