• Could Issue 1 cripple Republicans down ballot?

    by  • September 14, 2018 • Uncategorized

    The presence of Issue 1 on Ohio’s November ballot could cripple Republicans down ballot, making it impossible for the party to withstand a blue wave except in the gubernatorial race.

    That is the worry being voiced by several GOP consultants across Ohio with less than 60 days to go until Election Day 2018.

    Ballotpedia describes Issue 1 this way:

    Ohio Issue 1, the Drug and Criminal Justice Policies Initiative, is on the ballot in Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018.

    A “yes” vote supports this constitutional amendment to:

    • make offenses related to drug possession and use no more than misdemeanors;
    • prohibit courts from ordering persons on probation for felonies be sent to prison for non-criminal probation violations;
    • create a sentence credits program for inmates’ participation in rehabilitative, work, or educational programs; and
    • require the state to spend savings due to a reduction of inmates, resulting from Issue 1, on drug treatment, crime victim, and rehabilitation programs.
    A “no” vote opposes this constitutional amendment to:

    • make offenses related to drug possession and use no more than misdemeanors;
    • prohibit courts from ordering persons on probation for felonies be sent to prison for non-criminal probation violations;
    • create a sentence credits program for inmates’ participation in rehabilitative, work, or educational programs; and
    • require the state to spend savings due to a reduction of inmates, resulting from Issue 1, on drug treatment, crime victim, and rehabilitation programs.

    Despite the fact that if passed, Issue 1 would likely aid a large number of white working class–i.e., Republican-inclined– voters who have developed addictions to illegal drugs in recent years, the worry is that the initiative is likely to spur more turnout than would otherwise be expected among Democratic-leaning minority communities and liberals.

    That may partly be the effect of a wave of police shootings and advocacy from criminal justice reform groups that appears targeted at mobilizing left-of-center voters, as those easiest to reach in the wake of stories involving trigger-happy cops.

    Those voters in Ohio do not appear motivated by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray’s presence at the top of the ticket. But Issue 1 is motivating to them.

    Republican consultants believe the DeWine campaign is well-positioned to avoid a loss as a result of these voters turning out.

    However, some are concerned that down ballot Republican candidates have not factored in higher-than-normal turnout of voters inclined to support their Democratic opponents as a result of Issue 1’s presence on the ballot.

    That could mean a DeWine win coupled with numerous unforeseen Democratic victories on the night.

    It is unclear what further steps can be taken at this juncture to guard against higher turnout thanks to Issue 1 resulting in Democratic wins, especially as President Obama’s visit to Cleveland this past week seems to have been designed to motivate many of the same voters attracted to by the prospect of voting “Yes” on Issue 1 to turn out.

    However, Republican candidates should be girding their loins as much as they still can.

    A DeWine win may not translate down ballot, and if House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is to be believed, ballot initiatives can make or break congressional campaigns.