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SB 5 Repeal Still Ahead with Five Weeks to Go in Ohio

It was inevitable that the absence of headlines about union busting and crowds rallying in front of the Ohio State House would lead to a dissipation of energy and anger against SB 5, the anti-union bill up for a citizen veto in November. The problem for Gov. John Kasich and those who want SB 5 to become law is that they were so far behind to begin with that even this slippage may not be enough for them to win the referendum. A new Quinnipiac poll of the state shows that repeal is still on top:

Ohio voters support 51 – 38 percent repeal in a November referendum of SB 5, the law limiting collective bargaining for public employees, compared to 56 – 32 percent in July […]

In the SB 5 referendum, Republicans say keep the law 65 – 23 percent, up from 56 – 35 percent July 20. Men oppose SB 5 50 – 45 percent, compared to 55 – 37 percent. Women want to repeal the law 53 – 31 percent, compared to 56 – 28 percent in July.

“Ohio voters seem to be warming a little toward Gov. John Kasich, although he is still under water when it comes to public opinion,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute […] “But SB 5 is another story. Support for repealing the bill in the November referendum has dropped from a 24-point to a 13-point margin. Backers of SB 5 have only six weeks to make up the difference, although public opinion appears to be moving in their direction.”

Looks like women and union households will have to carry the day to stop SB 5, as Republicans revert back to the mean.

If the backers of the referendum can get their message out about the bill, they should be OK. All the component parts of SB 5 have an unfavorable opinion in Ohio, including 59% against large increases in health care contributions for public employees and 58% against banning public employee strikes. So the education campaign must flow from that.

If the election does get close, new laws designed to suppress Democratic votes in Ohio could play a role. The Obama ’12 Presidential campaign is frantically collecting signatures for their own citizen veto of the new Ohio election law, ensuring it would not be enacted until after the 2012 elections, if at all. The law would sharply reduce the time for early voting.

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David Dayen

David Dayen