Dennis Willard, spokesperson for One Person One Vote, celebrates in Columbus after Ohio Issue 1 is projected to fail.
Ohioians issued a resounding rejection of a GOP-led gambit to stymie abortion rights.
Republicans had to hope to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments in a bid to get ahead of a November vote.
Their effort sparked a massive turnout and lopsided margins in the state’s biggest cities. Even some rural counties voted against them.
Ohio voters on Tuesday in large cities and even some rural counties issued a resounding rejection of a Republican-led power grab that sought to short-circuit a major abortion rights vote this November.
While votes are still being counted, every major news organization projected that voters rejected Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that would have changed the threshold for future amendments to 60% and made it more difficult for advocates to get more questions in front of voters.
While proponents tried to cast their effort more broadly, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose made clear that it was geared toward stopping a proposed amendment that would enshrine basic protections for abortion rights into the state constitution.
“Ohio Dems were proud to play a part in stopping this power grab by out-of-touch politicians – most notably Frank LaRose, who is now officially Ohio’s biggest loser,” the Ohio Democratic Party crowed on Twitter.
Massive turnout in Ohio cities
As of 10:30 p.m. EDT, it appears that Issue 1 opponents drove up major margins in the three Cs — the nickname for Ohio’s three largest cities, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati — and the suburban counties that encompass them.
Take Franklin County, home to Columbus and the Ohio State University: opponents to the issue hold a 50-point advantage with an estimated 95% of the vote in, according to The New York Times. The same lopsided advantage was mirrored in the major campus-based precincts. In comparison, then-Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat, held a 32-point advantage in Franklin in 2022 when he went on to lose to now-Sen. JD Vance by just over 6 points statewide.
The true depth of the coalition was seen across the map. In response, Republicans could only muster that their focus was now on November.
“The people of Ohio have spoken,” Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens said in a statement, per the Ohio Capital Journal. “It is now time to turn our attention to November.”
As Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman pointed out, Issue 1 could fail in Delaware County, a northern Columbus suburban county that has backed every Republican presidential candidate since 1916. With more than 95% of the expected votes in, Issue 1 was even failing in Ashtabula County. In comparison, Vance won it by 18 points just under a year ago.
Progress Action Fund
It’s not the first time a generally red state came out big for abortion rights
Turnout thus far shows the makings of a familiar pattern that abortion rights advocates used to both expand protections and thwart restrictions in a series of votes last year. Just like in Kansas, the first state to vote on abortion.
The combined data so far may be the most worrying sign for the GOP. Even in the immense hyperpartisan era we live in, the issue continues to demonstrate cross-party appeal as Tuesday’s lopsided results illustrate. It also seems pretty clear that more than a year removed from Roe’s reversal, Americans remain animated about the future of abortion rights.
Tuesday’s result means abortion advocates are in a strong position come November. They will still only have to reach a simple majority to enshrine rights covering an abortion up until fetal viability, roughly up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, into the state constitution.
In comparison, Ohio Republicans pushed a so-called “fetal heartbeat” ban into law that would outlaw almost all abortions after roughly 6 weeks. The law is currently on hold, but the stakes of the potential amendment are abundantly clear.
As in other states, Issue 1 opponents likely banked a sizable lead in early voting.
Just under 642,000 Ohioans voted early, smashing turnout in recent elections, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Over 63,000 Ohioans voted early this past weekend alone. In comparison, 263,000 Ohioans voted early last May in races that featured contested US Senate and gubernatorial races.
The early turnout for Tuesday’s special election is more than four times the amount of early votes that were cast in statehouse primary races last year.
While Tuesday was a clear annoyance for senior Ohio GOP officials, it’s what’s to come that may really scare national Republicans: abortion rights activists continue to seek out states where they can put the issue on the ballot. Their next target is Arizona.