The Issue 2 ad barrage continues, and polling indicates the onslaught may be moving public opinion. The question for Issue 2’s backers and opponents is: how far, and how fast?
According to the latest Quinnepiac University poll, 51 percent of Ohioans say they would vote against Issue 2, and thereby repeal legislation that will affect collective bargaining and other work conditions for public employees. That’s still a majority, but it reflects a significant shift in opinion since the prior Quinnepiac poll on that topic, which was taken in July. In two months, the gap between those who favor repeal and those who oppose it has closed from 24 percent to 13 percent.
Although the news reports on the polling data are focusing on the erosion in the support for repeal, I’d say the odds still favor repeal. Ads on Issue 2 have been running for weeks now and the people who were easily persuaded have already been persuaded. In short, the low-hanging fruit has already been picked — and unlike a presidential election, there won’t be highly publicized debates or the possibility of gaffes that might have a discernible effect on voter preferences on Issue 2. Unless there is some blockbuster ad campaign ready to be rolled out between now and the election, those who seek to uphold the public employee collective bargaining law probably will have to bank on voter turnout working in their favor. Right now, the law seems likely to survive only if the fact of an off-year election, no statewide races, and a lingering recession operate to depress the turnout of Democratic voters.