Analysis: Issue 2 Never Stood A Chance
Opponents of Senate Bill 5 outmatched supporters in money, motivation and message.
In retrospect, Issue 2 never stood a chance.
Opponents outmatched supporters in money, motivation and message. It's no surprise they had more votes, too.
On Tuesday, about 60 percent of Ohio voters rejected Issue 2, Gov. John Kasich's plan to severely restrict bargaining rights for Ohio's unionized government workers. And the resounding defeat wasn't delieved with scant turnout during a boring off-year election.
Turnout was 46 percent, the highest for an off-year race since 1991.
The union-backed opponents were too strong, and cared too much. They viewed the fight to end Senate Bill 5 as a back-against-the-wall fight, and they campaigned that way.
Opponents trotted out teachers and firemen and said the law would ruin important government services and hurt midde class voters, and the voters believed them.
Supporters equated issue 2 with job creation and low taxes but voters just didn't believe them.
Observers predicted this before the election. John Green, executive director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, said that a major problem for supporters is that their argument is too nebulous.
"Connecting taxpayers directly to this issue is much more difficult," Green said. "The average voter is not going to immediately understand that connection."
Kasich and his Republican allies had the upper hand at the beginning of the fight, when they were able to force its passage through the state legislature despite the protesters filling the State House. Sente Bill 5 was passed and signed in March without any Democratic support.
Before the ink could dry on the newly signed law, the galvanized opponents mobilized and gathered 1.3 million signatures -- 900,000 which were verified -- to have Senate Bill 5 placed on the ballot.
With an army of volunteers and passionate advocates, they were ready for an election before it was even called.
When the campaigns began in earnest, opponents ratched up the do-or-die rhetoric. Thing is, they believed it too.
"It will be plantation deal where one side has power and the other side has none," said Harriett Applegate, head of the North Shore AFL-CIO. "People will lose jobs, they will lose their rights in the workplace. It will create a one-sided structure that doesn’t work. There will be no rights worth hanging their hat on.
"If we lose this battle, we are sitting ducks for extinction, a union in name only," Applegate added.
And the money came flowing in. Reports show that, since July, opponents raised more than $19 million while supporters collected about $7.6 million.
In all, opponents raised more than $30 million. Supporters never revealed all of their contributions.
What happened to supporters? Where did they go wrong?
Paul Allen Beck, a political science professor at Ohio State University, said it's basically a classic case of political over-reaching after Kasich and the GOP's 2010 election wins.
"Most voters weren't giving a mandate to the governor to change the nature of collective bargaining in Ohio," Beck said.
The core fight raised by Issue 2 is not over, despite Kasich saying Tuesday night that he respected the voters' decision and take a step back and reflect on the outcome.
Union members at an election party Tuesday implored each other to prepare for the next fight, maybe in the 2012 election or maybe sooner.
Some even thanked Kasich for Issue 2 for creating such strong solidarity.
Said Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association: "Thank you, John Kasich, for uniting the labor movement like it's never been before,"