Ohio’s Issue 1 would have made protecting abortion rights harder. Data shows why it failed

"I voted" stickers are displayed at the exit of the polling site at Toth Elementary School, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023 in Perrysburg, Ohio. Ohioans are voting on Issue 1. Voters in Ohio on Tuesday are weighing whether to make it more difficult to change the state's constitution, a decision that will have national implications in the debate over the future of abortion rights in the United States. (Kurt Steiss/The Blade via AP)(AP/Kurt Steiss)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ohio voters rejected a proposal that would have made it more difficult for voters to amend the state constitution, including one measure set for the November ballot that would guarantee abortion rights in the state.

The Associated Press has called Tuesday’s race, determining that supporters of the proposal known as Issue 1 fell short in their effort to require future changes to the state constitution to win the support of 60% of voters instead of a straight majority.

Votes cast against the measure, or No votes, received 57% compared to 43% in favor with the count nearly completed, a lead of almost 430,000 votes.

The nearly 750,000 advance votes cast by mail or in-person before Election Day broke heavily for No, roughly 70% to 30%, unsurprising considering Ohio Democrats campaigned heavily against Issue 1 and pre-Election Day voting tends to skew heavily Democratic.

The No side also appeared to win among votes cast on Election Day, approximately 53% to 47%, which is notable because the Election Day vote has tended to favor Republicans ever since Donald Trump discouraged advance voting in his failed 2020 re-election bid. The Yes side initially led in the Election Day vote on Tuesday evening as results came in from small, rural, Republican-friendly counties, but that advantage steadily eroded throughout the night.

When AP called the race, the Yes side was still ahead among Election Day vote but not by nearly enough to offset the lopsided result in the advance vote favoring the No side. The votes that remained to be counted at that point came mostly from Democratic strongholds such as Cuyahoga County, which did not bode well for the Yes side.

The size of the vote lead for the No side indicates that a significant number of Republicans voted against Issue 1. The No side was comfortably ahead in areas that Trump carried narrowly in 2020. Although Yes led in areas Trump won by greater margins in 2020, it fell far short of Trump’s performance in every county in the state, as of the latest tally. No votes had an overwhelming lead in areas President Joe Biden won in 2020, as expected.

Data from political data firm L2 provided further evidence of Republican crossover voters. While voters do not register by political party in Ohio, the firm’s data on early in-person and mail voting indicates that Democrats cast about 50% of ballots before Election Day, compared with 40% by those identified as Republicans. But No went on to win about 70% of these advance votes. The data firm models party affiliation using the partisan primary a voter most recently participated in.

Women turned out in higher numbers among those who voted before Election Day, according to L2. In particular, Democratic women comprised the largest share of votes cast in advance, more than Democratic men and Republican men and women.

The text of Issue 1 does not specifically mention abortion or reproductive rights, but the outcome of Tuesday’s special election would directly affect the percentage of votes needed to pass a separate ballot measure that would establish “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom” in the state constitution. That measure qualified for the November ballot last month, making Issue 1 a central battleground in the national debate over abortion.

Since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion, ballot measures in other states, such as Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan, have shown that a 50% to 60% majority of voters in those states support legalized access to abortion.

In Ohio, support for abortion being legal in most or all cases was at 59% among midterm voters last year, according to AP VoteCast. That suggests that, had Issue 1 passed, abortion rights advocates would have faced an uphill battle in codifying abortion rights in the state constitution this November.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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