Ohio's in the Bag, but Mississippi and Maine are Toss-Ups in Referendum Votes

*** UPDATED ***

Here are the latest polling numbers for today’s election:


Ohio Issue 2: According to a Public Policy Polling released Sunday, 59 percent of voters plan to vote against Senate Bill 5, which would severely limit the state’s public employees right to collective bargaining. Five percent of voters are still undecided, and 86 percent of Democrats are against the bill. Independents are also for repeal of the bill pushed by Governor John Kasich, who has a dismally low approval rating of 33 percent. The failure of SB5 will be a big and much needed win for labor in Ohio.

Pins and Needles

Mississippi’s Amendment 26: The Personhood amendment is the referendum to watch tonight, not only because its fate is up in the air, but because if the electorate makes this amendment a reality, it could set a dangerous precedent for how states approach abortion and women’s rights. 45 percent of voters support the amendment, and 11 percent of voters were still undecided as of yesterday, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. The good news is that Independents—who probably make up the bulk of the undecideds, are against the amendment by 51 percent with 35 percent for it. Because of this, I’m going to make a tentative prediction that the amendment will fail, but barely.

Maine’s Question 1:

Conflicting poll results on the repeal of the same-day registration repeal puts the citizen-led ballot initiative in toss-up territory. According to a Maine People’s Resource Center poll released on Sunday, 54.7 percent of voters are in favor of the repeal, and 38.2 against, with 7.1 percent undecided. The Public Policy  Polling one from last week—48 to 44 percent, again with 7 percent undecided. Those seven percent undecideds are crucial to whether same-day registration in Maine will stay intact. I’m a little more confident in predicting that the repeal will pass. Then again, polls haven’t proven very reliable for judging Maine referendums in the past. 

We’re Doomed:

Ohio Issue 3: It looks like the Health Care Freedom Amendment is going to pass today. A Public Policy Polling survey from Sunday showed voters support the amendment by a 49-35 margin. This amendment’s victory will be spun as being a referendum on Obama, but don’t let that argument take hold in your analysis of the election. Ohio’s unemployment is identical to the national rate, and the approval ratings of Ohio’s governor show that voters in the state are dissatisfied with the stagnant economy and government in general—not just the White House. As the GOP primaries and the national conversation show, Republicans have been successful in framing the Affordable Health Care to make it seem demonic, when in truth it would be a boon to our broken health care system. Also, “Health Care Freedom Amendment” is an appealing sell, especially for voters approaching the booth without researching the issue at hand (i.e. most of them). With this amendment, the most crucial thing to watch in the upcoming months won’t be how the symbolic gesture of Ohio showing its distaste of ACA plays out, but how the vague definitions in the amendment change the rest of Ohio’s health care system.


Although eyes have already turned toward the presidential election in 12 months, several important referendums with potentially drastic consequences are on the ballot this November. Many of them revolve around issues that are already making the rounds on the edge of the national consciousness; whether these ballot initiatives pass or not is sure to determine whether these issues dominate the conversation leading up to the election between the incumbent president and whatever Republican candidate manages to survive the increasingly Real World-esque primary season. Here are the most important referendums and issues to know for tomorrow.

Mississippi’s Amendment 26

This referendum would change the legal definition of person in Mississippi to “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” Such a definition would make abortion illegal and would open up the frightening possibility that birth control could be interpreted as attempted murder. The fact that such an open and extreme affront to women’s rights could make it on the ballot is an unfortunate sign of the growing power of the personhood movement (Pema Levy wrote a great primer of the movement in our recent issue). Even more troubling, this amendment could pass — a poll released yesterday from Public Policy Polling shows that 45 percent of voters support the amendment, while 44 percent oppose it. Planned Parenthood and the Democrats have waged large campaigns against the measure. If this amendment passes, it will have frightening implications for how the personhood movement moves forward and whether other potential personhood amendments make it on to the ballot in 2012.


Ohio has two important referendums on the ballot tomorrow: Issue 2 and 3. Issue 2 would, if passed, limit collective-bargaining rights for Ohio state employees. Mitt Romney came out in support for Issue 2, after first coming out ambivalent about the initiative. Right now, it looks like labor can preemptively start planning their victory party for tomorrow night — the last Quinnipiac poll shows that Ohio voters support repeal 57 percent to 32 percent.

The other referendum, Issue 3, or the Health Care Freedom Amendment, seeks to exempt Ohio from the Affordable Health Care mandate. Because the Affordable Care Act is a federal law, this initiative is more of a statement of disdain for the Obama administration than anything that will result in policy change. However, the vagueness of the potential amendment’s language could have far more harmful implications. The amendment’s vague prohibition of compulsory health-care systems could be interpreted to include workers’ compensation and other types of health care that voters would not want to lose, despite any misguided fears they might have about the health-care act. Unfortunately, Issue 3 is cruising toward passage. An October 19 poll showed that 55 percent of voters supported the amendment, and even more surprisingly, Democrats supported it 41 percent  to 35 percent.

Voter Rights

Mississippi and Maine are the stage for a couple of big voter-rights battles, the outcome of which is certain to be a bellwether for the possibility of similar ballot initiatives next year and beyond. Maine’s Question 1 seeks a repeal of same-day registration that was passed in June. Maine’s same-day registration has long been a source of pride for the state and is a big reason for Vacationland’s high marks in voter participation.

This citizen-led initiative looks like it’s going to prevail tomorrow, with 54.7 percent of voters in favor of the repeal, according to a Maine People’s Resource Center poll, and 38.2 against, with 7.1 percent undecided. However, other polls, like the Public Policy one from last week, show a much closer race, so the repeal’s victory is not set in stone.

Mississippi’s Initiative 27 would make photo identification necessary at the polls. If passed, the state would become the 15th to require photo identification at the polls. This type of law has become a popular Republican initiative, because citizens without voter identification are often voters who lean Democratic.

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