Why I Expect Issue 2 is Headed for a Big Defeat on Tuesday

The grainy cell phone camera shot explains it: When you have people who are conservative enough to post a pro-life banner on their front lawn, and yet also want the anti-union Issue 2 to go swirling, it suggests that the legislators in Columbus who voted to strip public workers of most of their ability to collectively bargain have really lost the plot. Another clue: In Darke County, where I live, which is in John Boehner’s representative district and which voted 68% for McCain in the last election, I have seen quite a few “No on 2″ banners and have yet to see one for “Yes on 2.” They may exist, but they sure seem outnumbered.

However, it’s for this same reason that I think those folks who think if Ohio votes down 2 that it automatically heralds the a comeback for the Democrats are probably deluding themselves. Darke County ain’t going Democrat, folks; I guarantee whoever the GOP candidate turns out to be next year is going to get 60+% of the vote here, just like they have done for the last several presidential election cycles. Likewise, Ohio remains the same deeply purple state it was before (which is to say, bright red in the rural areas, bright blue in the urban parts; whichever party wants Ohio in its ledger is going to have to work its ass off for it.

Issue 2 doesn’t seem to be wholly a red or blue issue, however. In the Venn diagram of this particular subject, there appears to be a whole lot of overlap. I don’t consider this to be a bad thing.

48 thoughts on “Why I Expect Issue 2 is Headed for a Big Defeat on Tuesday

  1. Republican or Democrat, I’ve yet to find a person outside of the statehouse who thinks shortchanging firefighters, paramedics, or police is a good idea.

  2. @2 – I imagine the reset each election cycle unlike my state’s initiative process where numbering carries over from year to year, which is why we’re in the 1100s.

  3. My bet is on the property owner being a Catholic. Catholics tend to be anti-abortion but pro-union. Ohio was the state with the ninth largest Catholic population at least as of 2006.

  4. Yeah, I live in Norwalk, OH, which is the biggest town in Huron County, OH. It’s about an hour each from Toledo, Cleveland and Mansfield, and is just south of Sandusky. Huron County voted 60/40 for Bush in the Bush/Kerry election, but went for Obama in 2008. I collected signatures to put issue 2 on the ballot and was pleasantly surprised to see how much support there was for defeating it, including from people who do not normally vote for Democrats. Norwalk is a blue collar town though, and people here value unions.

  5. Norwalk is a blue collar town though, and people here value unions.

    This. When I lived in the Midwest it was something that made Republican politicians tear their hair out – these guys are conservatives! they should be voting for us! – but the real party-line split was on the issue of unions.

  6. Dominic, it means it’s the second issue/ballot initiative on this particular ballot (Issue 1, in this case, has to do with raising the retirement age for judges in Ohio from 70 to 76). The numbers reset each election.

  7. I suspect that some people who are not sympathetic to unions might still vote against this measure. You can believe reducing the power of public employee unions without wanting to undermine them to the extent this measure does.

    Personally, I have voted against ballot measures even when I was in favor of the general idea for a variety of reasons, including: I didn’t like how a measure was implemented, I didn’t like how the measure was written, I thought a measure went too far, I thought an incremental step would be more appropriate, I thought a measure lacked a critical exemption, or I thought the proposed law should be a statue instead of a state constitutional amendment.

  8. With the amount of vitriol between our two parties I think our whole political system has lost the plot.

  9. Even down here in red-tinted Greene the number of “Vote Yes” signs is vastly overwhelmed by the number of “Vote No”.

  10. In my very Republican Cincinnati suburb the “No on 2″ signs outnumber the “Yes on 2″ signs by at least 20 to 1.

  11. I think a lot of the perception may have a lot to do with the huge amount of money the unions are pouring into their campaign. It still may lean toward reversing the law, but the advertising and propoganda is unusually one-sided.

  12. Deron, how do you relate that to the topic of the post? (Or was that just your knee jerking?) Money doesn’t buy signs in that many yards. Do you believe Scalzi’s perception is inaccurate?

  13. @MuleFace: So union members in Ohio go around slashing tires? Really? I am nominally a member of a union and I know of no one who does that. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but it does sound like hyperbole.

  14. We saw a few pro Issue 2 signs wayyyy out in the side roads here in Miami County on Saturday. But even in the well to do suburbs around Troy, all Vote No signs. It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow

  15. “…Money doesn’t buy signs in that many yards….”

    Well, they’re not exactly free as in “crop circles” left by aliens either. And you will notice that these signs are not home-made yard-sale style signs — they are mass produced by organizations, mostly unions or union-sponsored entities. It also takes a large organization to get them promoted and distributed state-wide. But that’s not entirely my point, I will grant you that the direct cost of the yard signs is relatively tiny.

    But money does by publicity of one’s viewpoint, which in turn through a series of indirect consequences does result in a higher population of yard signs. In addition to yard signs, there is obviously a lot of money being spent by unions on Issue 2 (to us Ohioans anyway). But more to my point, it’s wildly disproportionate (from my observations) to the amount of money being spent by the other side.

    Now I have almost no problems with this I might add. In American politics, spending money to influence voters through persuasion how things work. Though I do have a very big problem in that union members are forced to pay dues to what are essentially political organizations and those members have little or no say in whose side their money gets spent promoting.

    Perhaps the spending discrepancies are because the union side is better organized, or has more of a stake in the outcome, or simply has more cash on hand to spend on politics than the other side. And of course it is always easier to promote a side that has more emotional appeal than one that is mostly just appealing to accountants.

    However this sort of yard-sign-imbalance is not unusual at all, especially for union-related issues. Consider the case of most every school levee. You usually see the pro-levee (and pro-teachers-union) signs on many many more yards; yet school levees do sometimes fail, even when the anti-levee signage was hard to spot.

    But that’s why we vote at the polls, and don’t just have Google drive around counting yard signs.

  16. The whole sign observation does raise an interesting question for me though: why do these signs work, or do they? I have never let such an information-less sign like “Vote Yes/No on Issue X” influence me at all on how to vote on an issue, whether I agree or not. If I haven’t done enough research to make up my own mind on how to vote for an issue, I simply won’t vote that issue. Nor have I let the sheer number of signs for the side I don’t agree with shame me into changing my mind; I doesn’t bother me to be in an apparent minority. I see these kinds of yard signs as nothing more than 1) a childish popularity contest, or more likely 2) a status-signaling device for the yard owner. Obviously they must affect some voters, but not this one.

    Now that doesn’t necessarily hold for signs that state facts or information beyond just instructing me which circle to fill in on the ballet because I’m too dumb to have my own opinion. Nor does it necessarily hold for those signs that say “Elect Mr. X”. At least in the latter case the amount of signage does have a slight correlation to the ability of the candidate to run an organization (his/her election campaign) or at least a level of enthusiasm in promoting their ideas — and a candidate is running for office, an Issue is not. Yes, I still give those candidate signs a very minimal amount of influence on my decision, but it’s not at a zero-level as I do for those Vote Yes/No Issues signs.

  17. Deron @ 6:23 a.m.:

    Though I do have a very big problem in that union members are forced to pay dues to what are essentially political organizations and those members have little or no say in whose side their money gets spent promoting.

    That’s not true. Union leaders are elected by their members. If union members don’t like how the leaders of their union are spending their dues, they have the ability to vote for different leaders.

    When I was in a union, none of our dues were spent for political purposes. Instead, we had a special fund–filled with voluntary donations–that was used for things like lawn signs.

  18. In American politics, spending money to influence voters through persuasion how things work. Though I do have a very big problem in that union members are forced to pay dues to what are essentially political organizations

    You’re missing the irony in those two sentences. Of course, unions are (more or less) political organizations. An enormous range of things that affect workers are handled in the political arena. It would be a bad union indeed that ignored them.

  19. One may think that Deron is off topic, but in fact, he stated exactly the reason why I don’t post Yes on Issue 2 signs in my yard. I live in a town where there is a strong pro-union bent and I don’t trust my neighbors/their kids/whoever who already do vandalism in the neighborhood. I doubt there’s a single pro-2 sign in our community.

    I do find it interesting, however, that all of the big newspapers in Ohio have come out on the pro-Issue 2 side. I’m not sure what that means – either the media is completely out of touch with their community, or there is something else going on. The Washington Post reported on 10/27 that there are signs that Issue 2 may be in a dead heat right now. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/exclusive-internal-labor-memo-says-ohio-union-fight-could-go-either-way/2011/10/27/gIQANLvQMM_blog.html

  20. @Cassie–That’s surely possible. It’s also exactly what a labor group would say, to ensure that people turn out and vote.

  21. John, I agree that a defeat of Issue 2 won’t turn any red counties blue overall, or turn the state from purple to blue. And it’s unlikely to have any effect on Speaker Boehner’s reelection bid.

    I’m curious as to how the results of this will affect Gov. Kaisich’s term, and potential for reelection in 2014. If Issue 2 fails, will he become a lame duck before he’s finished one term? Or more likely, will he quietly back away from being such a public voice for controversial legislation? If it passes, will it help him at all, 3 years down the line when he’s eligible for reelection? How much will it hurt him if Issue 2 passes, and the promised budget savings fail to materialize?

    Me, I’m just glad I got back in town (family emergency) in time to make to the polls tomorrow.

  22. Ah, election time. Or as I tend to call it ‘head exploding time’. I’m not in Ohio but I can still feel the ire rising in reflection. Groups of people deciding on whether other groups of people can have a union (benefits) or groups of people deciding what other (female) groups of people can do with their own bodies just boggles the mind. Next they’ll all be deciding who I can or can’t marry. Oh. Wait. =/

  23. It’s not just unions spending money to influence votes.

    Here’s a partial list of the right-wing groups trying to save Kasich’s SB 5 (and his backside) by running ads exhorting people to vote Yes on Issue 2.

  24. My “slashed tires” comment was not meant literally (keying the paint job on the other hand….). Union members are going to be a LOT more motivated on this issue than non unionites. This is not a presidential year – shoot, it’s not even a congressional year. It will be a low turnout election in which stakeholders – ie: union members – will turn out heavily compared to non-union members. It will likely go “No” even heavier than the polls say.

  25. CLP @ 7:14am: “That’s not true. Union leaders are elected by their members…. When I was in a union, none of our dues were spent for political purposes.”

    I didn’t want to focus too much on the pros/cons of unions themselves because it’s only casually related to the number-of-yard-signs as an indicator of voter preferences observation, but I’ll go ahead and answer what’s been challenged of my statements….

    I think its great that your union separated political spending out into a voluntary fund, assuming of course there’s not an undue amount of pressure to volunteer your funds. But the three big public unions (teachers, firefighters, police) behind all the Issue 2 media blitz and most of the signs operate quite a bit differently. Most public union members don’t have a choice of 1) whether they want to be part of the union, and 2) how their “taxed” money will be (directly) spent in the political arena.

    David @ 8:13am: “You’re missing the irony in those two sentences.”

    Yes, and I’m still missing the irony. I wasn’t saying that unions are bad because they spend money on political persuasion, like yard signs. I agree, that’s what unions are more-or-less supposed to do — they are basically political power organizations focused on self-preservation. That’s not necessarily bad, but it is what they do, at least the big ones. So my problem isn’t as much in what unions do or how they spend their money; it’s on the other side: how they get their money and how they get their membership. If I want to be a teacher or firefighter I am for all practical purposes forced to become a union member, and then I am for all practical purposes forced to donate money (dues) to that union — which the union doing what it does for its own purposes will spend that money on self promulgation and political activism.

    And yes, in theory, union members can vote in different leadership which in theory could spend money on the “other side”. But in essence that would be voting to weaken or abolish the union, because the other side is the opposite of union-self-preservation. It would be like electing anti-capitalists to the board of Apple Inc. So that’s just not going to happen – I don’t see unions ever being significantly changed from the inside, despite the political views of its individual membership. The power of members controlling the political direction of a large union is somewhat illusionary.

    Yes, both sides (pro/con union) can argue this back and forth all day. But my point is that I don’t find irony there because what I said and what you heard are likely different things. From your perspective, yes, lots of irony, enjoy the laugh; but from mine, nope, I find my dose of irony in places you probably don’t.

    But regardless, thanks to the self-preservation actions of unions we in Ohio will get another day of yard signs as thick as Spring dandelions. I just wish they were prettier.

  26. Deron @ 2:11 p.m.: First of all, the union I was in was a public employee union, a local of the American Federation of Teachers, in fact.

    Most public union members don’t have a choice of 1) whether they want to be part of the union, and 2) how their “taxed” money will be (directly) spent in the political arena.

    This is false. People have the option of only paying a “fair share” amount, which is used to support the cost of bargaining. The Supreme Court ruled in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson that such “fair share” payers have a right to request that none of their “fair share” dues go to political purposes.

    If I want to be a teacher or firefighter I am for all practical purposes forced to become a union member, and then I am for all practical purposes forced to donate money (dues) to that union — which the union doing what it does for its own purposes will spend that money on self promulgation and political activism.

    Like I said above, you can file a Hudson objection and have none of your dues go to political purposes.

    And yes, in theory, union members can vote in different leadership which in theory could spend money on the “other side”. But in essence that would be voting to weaken or abolish the union, because the other side is the opposite of union-self-preservation. It would be like electing anti-capitalists to the board of Apple Inc. So that’s just not going to happen – I don’t see unions ever being significantly changed from the inside, despite the political views of its individual membership. The power of members controlling the political direction of a large union is somewhat illusionary.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your argument here. You’re saying that because union members want their union to be strong, they elect leaders who will fight in the political arena to keep the union strong. How is that a failure of the union to reflect the will of the membership? By your own premise, the union leaders are doing what their members desire.

    If the union membership didn’t want the union to participate in politics, they could elect leaders who promised to keep their union out of politics. The fact that union members have declined to do so doesn’t mean that “The power of members controlling the political direction of a large union is somewhat illusionary.” It just means that the union members refuse to be like turkeys who vote for Thanksgiving.

  27. @Deron, as CLP has pointed out, you don’t really understand how union membership works currently. Just to reinforce his points: http://www.nrtw.org/a/a_1_p.htm

    You also don’t really seem to understand the history of unions. The closed shop (which is now illegal in the United States) came about because the unions, which had won concessions from their employers quite literally with their own blood, objected to others coming in and working at the employer gaining the benefits of the union negotiations and weakening the union in the process.

  28. I can’t claim inside knowledge regarding public-sector unions. I can, however, claim intimate knowledge of unions in the private sector, having worked at several companies that had to work with them (the UAW, the IBEW, and numerous construction-related unions.) If public-sector unions are anything like their private-sector counterparts, I have a hard time seeing them as an asset–especially in the field of education.

    The words “union” and “efficiency” are antithetical. I was once on a job site in Michigan where a project was delayed for three weeks because only a “union electrician” could complete a simple wiring procedure that anyone with basic electrical skills could perform. (Of course, the “union electrician” was paid a premium for being such.) And yes, the above charges about union members slashing tires is true: I have seen non-union workers have their tires slashed, and cars keyed on numerous occasions at numerous job sites. Worker solidarity is a wonderful thing.

    In the context of education, my big complaint is that unions consistently block initiatives to prevent districts from offering higher salaries to math and science teachers—who can make more money in the private sector. This prevents many qualified math and science professionals from entering teaching careers. (Unions really seem to be helping the kids.)

    I guess I would have to ask you, John: How many years have you spent working at companies where unions are a daily reality? What, specifically, makes you regard them so highly (based on your actual experience of them?)

  29. Todd:

    As regards Issue 2, this isn’t a question about specific unions, it’s about the right of workers to collectively bargain. Whether you like unions is neither here nor there to the more fundamental question of whether people have the right to band together to negotiate; they are separate issues. A union is a consequence of the right to collectively bargain, not the right itself. A distaste for unions should not be used as an excuse to strip people of these rights. In Ohio and elsewhere, however, that’s pretty transparently why the GOP did it. It’s one reason — and I suspect a primary reason — that people got their backs up over it.

    This is a long way of saying I find your question fundamentally not relevant to the issue at hand.

  30. John:

    In other words, no, you have no real-world experience in these matters.

    As a practical matter, collective bargaining and unions mean the same thing. How does “collective bargaining” proceed without a union? And please spare me a rehash of an undergraduate course you took in labor relations. I know all about the election process in the workplace. I have been there, done that in the real world; and i know there is a technical difference between the two. But in practical terms, “collective bargaining” = “union”.

    The net result of a defeat for issue 2 will be to leave public-sector unions in power, with all their attendant inefficiencies. This will be especially true in education, where unions are arguably doing the most harm.

    But if you’re all for that, that’s fine. The unions (or “the results of collective bargaining” if you prefer) will appreciate your vote.

  31. CLP & David: That’s great news! Thanks for the clarifications and useful links.

    Of course (large) unions still wield an enormous amount of power and there are still plenty of indirect forces they have to help to insure their power and funding sources remain strong despite the laws; plus Ohio is not a right-to-work state. And there are plenty of other reasons why (some people) think that unions as a whole are a really bad idea anyway, just as there must be reasons why (some other people) think they are most wonderful things.

    …. And this discussion is probably drifting way off topic now, especially as the votes are in a few hours and it will be over. The likely outcome: at least 3 people will have been glad they saw a sign to tell them which way to vote or they would have been dumbfounded; union influence will have been successfully exercised over the other 86% of the state, making that 14% very happy; a few people will feel less guilty about stupefying children and causing fires and crime; the State/taxpayers will be in a little more of a financial bind, though not immediately apparent; and — most importantly — hopefully all those darn signs will be gone. Well, at least one of the two signs in Scalzi’s photo – can’t win them all.

    Thanks for the discussions folks.

  32. Todd:

    “In other words, no, you have no real-world experience in these matters.”

    No, it means that I found your question not relevant and chose not to answer it, although I did choose to explain why. That you thereby make the assumption that I have no real world experience regarding unions from that means that you’re making an assumption without basis, which means you are currently making a great big ass of yourself, whether you are aware of it or not.

    While you appear not to be able to find much practical difference between a right and how that right is exercised, I disagree and find the difference highly relevant, although as I’ve found your response to my first comment obnoxious, I have no further interest in explaining why to you in this thread. Likewise, your attempt to pull rank re the “undergraduate course in labor relations,” snark is dismissed as sophomore-level condescension and not really worthy of response.

    In other words, Todd: If you actually want to have a conversation next time, try harder not to be asshole. If you’re merely interested in being an asshole, run along, please, there are other places on the Internet you can do that.

  33. Of course (large) unions still wield an enormous amount of power and there are still plenty of indirect forces they have to help to insure their power and funding sources remain strong despite the laws; plus Ohio is not a right-to-work state. And there are plenty of other reasons why (some people) think that unions as a whole are a really bad idea anyway, just as there must be reasons why (some other people) think they are most wonderful things.

    If you’d like to mention some specifics, we can discover whether you’re as mistaken about them as you were about your original examples.

  34. *throws the goat*

    First sign that the country’s slide into outright fascism may not be entirely unimpeded! It’s a great day for America.

  35. “If you’d like to mention some specifics, we can discover whether you’re as mistaken…”

    lol. Umm, nope. This is not the place nor time, especially as this is not my space, it’s Scalzi’s. I don’t know if that offer was serious or tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not a child seeking mentoring, nor would it be sane to want to play one-way dodge ball. Everybody has their own areas of expertise, and everybody has their areas where they’re not (yet) experts. Sure, if others can provide some information which fills in a few gaps or misunderstandings of my own, especially when it corrects a couple statements I made which others may have read, great! I admit and accept that. That’s what reasonable adults do. But we need not banter any further; besides, almost 90% of why I think big unions are quite bad for a free society has nothing to do with any specific legal fact, plus I’m quite capable of doing my own additional research.

    In a bigger sense, why do I even hang out in a blog like this that’s far from being lock-step from my own views? Because sometimes I learn things, and I always want to keep testing my own beliefs — and never straying your own echo chamber is no way to do that. (Oh, and for a “liberal” guy, Scalzi is actually very open minded and reasonable and provides a remarkably safe place for people of differing contentious views to discuss things). So I did learn a little bit, thanks again, and I tested my beliefs a bit more, which on the whole I’ve had to slightly tweak but have survived mostly unchanged.

    Anyway I voted what I think (and still think) would have been the best for Ohio, but the vote’s over and that’s that, for this year.

  36. almost 90% of why I think big unions are quite bad for a free society has nothing to do with any specific legal fact

    That’s convenient, as it cuts out those messy things like ‘facts’ and ‘evidence’ but I have to wonder: is it 88% of why you think it? 89%? 89.2%?

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