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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,"

Duane Gibson November 12, 2011 at 02:18 PM
SB5 has everything to do with public union busting, hence the 300+ pages that dealt DIRECTLY with unions AND NOT with pension contributions or healthcare. Need further proof? How about the immediate reaction by the GOP to start trying to make Ohio a "right to work" state. Now there's a recipe for lower wages. Adam, what do you know about union dues? You say they're out of control. In which way? Maybe you should ask the 1.3 million people who signed the petiution for the Issue 2 referendum if they're out of control. The only thing out of control about them is Kasich couldn't ram through a flawed piece of legislation down the throats of Ohio in order to help his Republican friends. Now his friends are running for cover. I suspect they will bring back parts of SB5 in smaller bills, as maybe they should. But make no mistake, YOUR Governor balanced the budget on the backs of all taxpayers in the State of Ohio by making horrendous cuts to cities and schools....then tried to blame public unions for the problem. Look forward to more levies from the cities and schools to make up the tens of millions of dollars stripped from their budgets.....and Kasich trying to blame public unions again. Worst Governor in history. He tried to make some landmark legislation in his run for national office and failed. Don't think he cared about you, GOP or DEM, either way. One term Johnny will be his legacy.
Tony Marcum November 12, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Duane, I'm with you and we sound like we are in agreement. I'm not well read on the "right to work" state but that doesn't really seem bad to me? Do I understand it correctly that its' just the law that says you cannot be forced to be in a union or you can join if you want? That sounds more like a free society. However, I have to admit since I haven't read up on it much I don't understand the full details and consequences. Do you care to expand?
Tony Marcum November 12, 2011 at 05:05 PM
I think I might be in agreement with Right to work. It gives the power to the people. It could actually make the unions work harder because if they are not doing what they need to do then they will fade away like a business that doesn't service it's customers properly. However, if the people find that they provide a valuable service for the dues they pay, then the unions will become stronger. In my mind, no one should be forced to be in a union nor should they be prohibited either. Employers would be encouraged to provide good wages else they would find themselves working against a union.
Duane Gibson November 14, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Tony, right to work does not give the power to the people. It takes the people's power away and gives it to the employer. Just imagine the chaos when employers have no motivation to offer equitable pay and benefits, and can terminate without reason. What you have is lower wages and a court system bogged down in litigation. Unions have their place. They have helped in the fight to institute fair wages etc. Those unions that do little than protect the bad workers, and there are some, are facing their own judgement days. However, I feel that those are few and far between. I think if you asked union members if they are satisfied with what they get from their dues you would find the vast majority would give the thumbs up.
william November 14, 2011 at 03:02 PM
Adam, The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 commonly referred to as a bailout of the U.S. financial system, was enacted Oct. 3 2008. George Bush was president. Adam GET A CLUE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT

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