Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Celebration at the White House over Ohio Vote Should be a Little Muted.

Ohio is a key battleground state for next year's presidential election.  In 2008, Barack Obama carried it by less than 5%of the vote, 51% to 47%.  Thus, the referendum today in Ohio on whether to rescind the GOP's union-busting law, Senate Bill 5, was widely watched for the implications it might have for President Obama's ability to hold Ohio's 20 electoral votes in 2012.

At first blush, the results of today's voting seemed to be encouraging for the President.  The pro-labor vote is running almost 2 to 1 in favor of rescinding the law that eviscerated collective bargaining rights for Ohio's public workers.  With well over half the ballots tabulated, labor was winning 62% to 38%.  The White House issued a statement applauding the citizens of Ohio for restoring collective bargaining rights.

But before everyone puts bets down on the President's chances in Ohio next year, there was another ballot initiative today in Ohio to consider.  Ballot Issue 3 was a proposed constitutional amendment to foreclose any law in Ohio that tries to require the type of individual mandate that is a key part of the Affordable Health Care Act, Obamacare.  The wording of the issue was very poorly done, and could be seen as inviting a vote in favor of freedom, motherhood and apple pie.  But it could also be seen as a stinging rejection of Obamacare.  The vote today was overwhelmingly in favor of making health care individual mandates unconstitutional, by a wider margin (66% to 34%) than the union victory on Ballot Issue 2.  The amendment is of little legal significance, as federal legislation can't be invalidated by individual states.  That issue was fought over and resolved 150 years ago.

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