Half a Loaf in Ohio's Issues Election

So what was the bigger news out of Ohio last night:

  • That Ballot Issue 2, which aimed to retain a law passed earlier this year that among other things required reasonable public-sector employee contributions towards pension and healthcare costs and limited the scope of collective bargaining, failed by 61%-39%?
  • Or that Issue 3, a state constitutional amendment which set out to legally hard-wire into Ohio's Constitution prohibitions against forcing anyone to participate in a health insurance plan or to purchase health insurance, passed by 66%-34%?

If you're in the establishment press, the former means everything and the latter supposedly means nothing. The Associated Press, whose reporters are not so coincidentally represented by an aggressive, far-left union, is trumpeting Issue 2's failure as one of organized labor's "biggest victories in decades." Decades? All of a sudden Barack Obama's election in 2008 doesn't count? Meanwhile, searches at the AP's main site indicate that Issue 3 isn't even on its national wire.

The truth is that for both Ohio and the other 49 states in the union, the Issue 3 result is potentially far more important, while in the Buckeye State itself, Issue 2's failure doesn't repeal the state's growing fiscal challenges.

Issue 3 was an epic, unqualified victory for the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Alliance, the Tea Party-driven organization which orchestrated a successful petition drive and managed the fall campaign. By significant majorities in each and every one of Ohio's 88 counties, Buckeye State residents told Washington, in the words of Chris Littleton at the Ohio Liberty Council, that:

  • "… healthcare decisions should be in our hands – not the hands of politicians and bureaucrats."
  • "… mandates which compel behavior, through threat of penalties and fines, fundamentally limit personal freedom."
  • "… our rights to liberty and property … (are violated by) the federal mandate to purchase government defined health insurance."
  • "… Ohio must take a stand on freedom of choice in healthcare to protect both our state and nation moving forward."

Majorities in every county agreed with these four assertions. The margin of Issue 3's victory was over ten points in every county save one. It passed handily in bluer-than-blue Cuyahoga County (margin: 58-42), home of the "Little Detroit" known as Cleveland (1950 population: 915,000; 2010 population: 397,000). Issue 3 even passed in Lucas County (margin: 56-44), home of Toledo, where a conservative Republican is even harder to find than a public-sector union rep willing to give up any pay, perks, or privileges. Issue 3's tightest margin was in Ohio University-dominated Athens County, where it still passed by over five points. At least ten suburban and rural counties racked up victories by margins of greater than 3-to-1. Additionally, do not forget that Issue 3's gigantic rout was achieved in an off-year election where Democrats and public-sector union employees were clearly far more motivated to turn out than the rest of Ohio's voters.