Early voting victory in Ohio, but more challenges to come?

In a once sentence ruling, the Supreme Court left intact a US Appeals Court ruling that restored early voting rights for all OH voters the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.  Questions remained over how quickly Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted -- who has led the state Republicans' push to shrink the early voting window aggressively -- would uphold his promise to restore statewide early voting hours.

Steve Benen with some good news: 

Husted has now issued a directive setting uniform hours on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the election, and it's online here (pdf). In a statement, he grudgingly conceded, "Today I have set uniform hours statewide, giving all Ohio voters the same opportunities to vote in the upcoming presidential election regardless of what county they live in." That this is a concession the Ohio Secretary of State fought tirelessly not to make is rather remarkable, but as of this afternoon, it appears the fight is over.

Big win.  But Rick Hasen says voting rights battles may not be over in Ohio.

The state of Ohio still has not announced whether it will appeal further in the other Ohio voting case, involving wrong precinct ballots.  This is by far a more important case in terms of the consequences for the election.

[...]Ohio had a stronger argument in the early voting case on equal protection grounds than they’d have in the wrong precinct case.  But because this is more consequential, potentially outcome determinative in Ohio, there will be partisan pressures to appeal.

Stay tuned.

 

Don’t Count Out the Labor Movement

 

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Almost every conservative political columnist, pundit, commentator, blogger, and bloviator has written about the decline and forthcoming death of the labor movement.

They happily point to Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker shortly after taking office in January 2011 took advantage of a Republican majority in the House and Senate to ram through legislation that stripped numerous collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Among collective bargaining rights are those that assure decent working conditions and a fair grievance process to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory discipline.

The Republicans point to Ohio, where Republican Gov. John Kasich, with similar legislative support, signed legislation in March 2011 that restricted collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.

They point to state after state where Republican legislators, with the financial support of private industry have brought forth self-serving bills to oppose collective bargaining.  

The conservative mantra is to pander to the middle-class pocketbook by creating a pseudo-populist appeal. The right-wing claims they are the ones who care about the people enough to cut government spending, which will lower all kinds of taxes. They altruistically scream that inflated payrolls and pensions caused economic problems, and the best way to help those who are struggling in a depressed economy is to lower those costs by curtailing the perceived power of unions. It sounds nice; it’s also rhetoric encased in lies.

Numerous economic studies have shown that the pay for public union employees is about the same as for private sector employees in similar jobs. And in some jobs, public sector workers earn significantly less than non-unionized private sector workers, leading to professionals and technical specialists often switching jobs from government to private industry, usually at higher wages and benefits.

So what, exactly, is the problem? Tax cuts. Bill Clinton left office, having given the nation a strong economy. During the Go-Go years in the first part of the 21st century, under the Bush–Cheney administration, states and the federal government created tax cuts for individuals, and held out generous tax cuts, tax waivers, and subsidies to corporations. The Republican theory was that these tax cuts would eventually “trickle down” to the masses by stimulating the economy.

What happened is that instead of benefitting the masses, these forms of wealthfare and corporate welfare, have done little to stimulate an economy that was heading down because the Republican executive and legislative branches, preaching less government, didn’t want government interference in financial institutions, the most politically conservative business. As a result of deregulation or, in many cases minimal regulation oversight, came the twin catastrophes of the Wall Street scandals and the housing mortgage crisis that spun the nation into the deepest recession since the Depression of the 1930s.

But you don’t hear the Republicans tell you they caused it, only that a run-away economy is because of those fictional high government salaries that need to be cut.

Joseph Slater, professor of law at the University of Toledo, says because of the 2008 crisis, states experienced massive budget shortfalls because growing unemployment decreased tax revenue. The problem in the states and the federal government, Slater told NEA Today, isn’t because of collective bargaining, but “because some of the worst state budget problems are in the small handful of states that prohibit public sector collective bargaining, states like Texas and North Carolina.” However, said Slater in an article for the American Constitution Society, “states with strong public sector collective bargaining laws . . . have smaller than average deficits.”

In response to conservative calls to curtail “pension abuse” in the public sector, Slater pointed out that “the vast majority of states don’t allow unions to bargain over public pension benefits,” and that some of the worst pension problems are in the so-called right-to-work states that have no public employee unions.

In contrast to the all-out assault upon the workers by Republicans, Govs. Dan Malloy of Connecticut and Jerry Brown of California, both Democrats, have been reducing budget deficits, sometimes with a heavy hand as they slash programs and the number of workers, in consultation with the unions and without curtailing union rights. Unionized  workers in both private and public sectors have taken temporary pay cuts or agreed to taking vacation days without pay. Few corporate executives and no state legislators have willingly matched the sacrifices of the workers.

Now, as for those conservatives who are dancing on what they think are the graves of the working class labor movement. There’s a few stories they aren’t happily reporting.  

In Wisconsin, the recall election of Scott Walker did fail, as out-of-state individuals, PACs, and corporations contributed about two-thirds of his $30 million campaign to keeping him in office, as opposed to his opponent raising only about one-eighth of that amount. However, in subsequent elections, all three Democratic senators survived recall votes, and two of six Republican senators were recalled, leading to a change in Senate membership from 19–14 Republican to 17–16 Republican, but effectively blocking a “super majority” from ramrodding further anti-worker legislation into law.

In Ohio, voters overwhelmingly rejected, 62–38 percent, the new Ohio law that stripped collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. In defeat, Gov. Kasich, whose attacks upon collective bargaining were a central part of his campaign, said “It’s clear the people have spoken.”

Monday is Labor Day. It’s more than just picnics and a three-day weekend. It’s a time to honor the working class, and the unions that gave them the rights of collective bargaining. They may be struggling but they are far from dead.

[Walter Brasch is a syndicated social issues columnist and author. His latest book is the critically acclaimed journalistic novel, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which has an underlying union theme. He is a proud member of several professional and trade unions, including The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America.]

 

 

Analyzing the 2010 Midterm Elections – the Ohio Gubernatorial Election

This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will analyze the Ohio gubernatorial election, in which Republican John Kasich narrowly defeated Democrat Ted Strickland.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Ohio’s Gubernatorial Election

In most of the 2010 midterm elections, Democratic performances were strikingly similar to President Barack Obama’s performance in 2008. If a place had generally voted Democratic in the past, but didn’t vote for Mr. Obama – it tended not to vote Democratic in 2010 either. An example of this is southwest Pennsylvania. The same holds true for places that generally voted Republican in the past but went for Mr. Obama this time (e.g. the Houston and Salt Lake City metropolitan areas.)

Ohio’s gubernatorial election was an exception to this trend. Democratic former Governor Ted Strickland built a very traditional Democratic coalition in Ohio:

(A note: Credit for the first three maps in this post goes to the New York Times.)

This map is strikingly similar to previous Democratic performances in Ohio, and less similar to Mr. Obama’s. Mr. Obama did unusually well in Columbus and Cincinnati and unusually badly in the Ohio’s northeast unionized industrial corridor. Mr. Strickland depended less on Columbus and Cincinnati and more on the northeast.

Ohio’s 2010 gubernatorial election looks very similar to previous elections. Here, for instance, is President George W. Bush in 2004:

Even more similarly, we can look at President Bill Clinton’s victory in 1996. Of course, Mr. Clinton won Ohio by a decent margin while Mr. Strickland lost. But if you simply imagine the Republican margins widening and the Democratic margins decreasing, you get something very similar to Mr. Strickland’s map:

One can go further back – to the 1976 presidential election or even the 1940 presidential election – and get similar results. (Note that in the link for the 1976 presidential election, blue indicates Republican victories while red indicates Democratic victories; this is the opposite of the norm.)

Republican Governor John Kasich thus won a victory based off electoral patterns more than three generations old.

Two Unusual Patterns

Let’s compare Mr. Kasich’s performance with Senator John McCain’s performance:

This is a very unusual map. When most Republicans win, Republican strongholds shift more to the Republican candidate, while Democratic strongholds shift less.

This did not happen with Mr. Kasich. Rather, Mr. Kasich seems to have improved the most in the more populated areas of Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland). He actually does worse than Mr. McCain in a number of Republican counties.

Notice also how Mr. Strickland improves upon Mr. Obama along the southeastern border of Ohio. This is not an accident; Mr. Strickland’s area of improvement directly traces the old congressional district he represented before becoming governor.

Here is a map of Ohio’s congressional districts. Mr. Strickland represented the 6th congressional district in the map:


There is one final interesting note about the 2010 Ohio gubernatorial election. Republican candidate John Kasich lost much of Appalachian southeastern Ohio. This is a rare occurrence; that part of Ohio is economically liberal but socially conservative and quite poor. It usually votes Republican but will occasionally go for a Democratic candidate.

Generally, this only happens when the Republican candidate is losing. That Mr. Kasich lost southeastern Ohio but still won the state is a rare thing.

The Democratic Party is in trouble in this part of America; it has gone from Clinton country to one of the few areas where Barack Obama did worse than John Kerry. The Democratic officeholders in this region are gradually being swept out of office.

Yet Mr. Strickland was able to win soundly in Appalachian Ohio, despite losing the state during the strongest Republican wave in a generation. That is quite a unique accomplishment. It offers a ray of hope to Democrats in Appalachian America.

--Inoljt

 

 

The Whitest District of Them All, Part 2

This is the part of a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Districts

The previous post stated that

I drew a lot of districts in the quest for the whitest district of them all. It wouldn’t do the difficulty of this task justice to just show one district. Rather, I will show the five whitest districts of all the ones that I drew. Numbers five and four will be in this post. The top three will be in the next one.

The fifth-whitest district was in the state of Indiana, the fourth whitest was in the state of Kentucky.

Now for the third-whitest district.

#3: West Virginia

Population – 98.2% white, 0.3% black, 0.5% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% other

West Virginia is home to the third whitest district. This district is the most compact of all the districts presented here, essentially taking in all of rural West Virginia. Interestingly, despite being almost exactly one-third of the state’s population, it covers the vast majority of West Virginia’s land area. West Virginia is not commonly thought of as an urban state – but even this part of America is urbanized to a striking degree.

Politically, this district used to constitute the core of white working-class, pro-union Democratic strength. It probably voted Democratic in 1988, 1980, and 1968 – all years in which the Republican presidential candidate pummeled the Democrat. During the 21st century, however, it shifted strongly Republican. President Barack Obama lost the district in 2008, and it would be extremely surprising if he wins it in 2012.

#2: Ohio

Population – 98.2% white, 0.3% black, 0.6% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% other

The second whitest district of them all belongs to the ultimate swing state, Ohio.


The key to this district is the size of Ohio. Because Ohio is such a populous state, the district is free to sprawl throughout the state in search of only the whitest precincts. This is something that wasn’t possible in Kentucky or West Virginia, and it’s why the district is slightly whiter – despite Ohio overall having a much lower white population.

Rural whites in Ohio are also quite conservative. Politically this district gave President Barack Obama 36.1% of the vote in 2008; Senator John McCain took 61.7% of the vote. The “average” Democrat from the years 2006 to 2008 won 45.6% of the vote; the “average” Republican won 54.4% of the vote. Both numbers overstate Democratic strength here, since 2006 to 2008 were very good years for Democrats.

#1: Pennsylvania

Population – 98.6% white, 0.2% black, 0.4% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% other

Surprise! The whitest district of them all is in Pennsylvania, a state which you probably weren’t guessing.

Like Ohio, Pennsylvania benefits from being a very populous state; the district can freely reach into only the whitest areas. And apparently central and eastern Pennsylvania are extremely white regions.

Geographically, this district covers a lot of ground. Remember that the people living here compose only 1/18th of Pennsylvania’s total population. And yet the district is certainly a lot bigger than 1/18th of Pennsylvania’s total land area.

Politically, this district has a lot in common with the Indiana and Ohio districts. It gave President Barack Obama 37.2% of the vote and Senator John McCain 61.3% of the vote in 2008. Pennsylvania may be a Democratic-leaning state, but rural Pennsylvania whites are not anymore liberal than rural Indiana and Ohio whites. Moreover, this district has probably always been Republican-leaning. Parts of it, especially in the southwest, once were quite Democratic. But the eastern part of the district outnumbers the southwest. Located in Pennsylvania’s “T”, those eastern reaches have been a Republican stronghold for a very long time.

Conclusions

Most people say that the whitest part of the United States is in New England. That’s technically true, if one includes New England’s snow-white non-rural areas. But, as this post shows, the part of the United States with the highest percentage of whites is actually located elsewhere.

There are several ways to describe the region. It’s entirely rural; the cities and suburbs in the region are not included. Parts (or all) of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia cover it. One way to describe it would be as the basin of the Ohio River. Another way would be as the Appalachian Mountains and the forested areas to their north.

Whatever the description, minorities have never settled in this part of the United States. African-Americans generally live in the South and, outside of the South, in cities. Hispanics generally live in the Southwest and, outside the Southwest, in cities and economically growing regions. Asians generally live in California and Hawaii and, outside those two states, in suburbs. This region is thus the whitest part of the America, and will probably continue to be so for many, many years to come.

--Inoljt 

 

15 Years for Shooting ex-Fiance


The Columbus Dispatch reports

Assistant Prosecutor David Zeyen said Stredney confronted Hart in the parking lot of NCO Financial Systems on Frantz Road as he arrived for work on the morning of Dec. 14. She tried to force him into her car at gunpoint and shot him in the face when he refused.
She threw the handgun from the window of her car as she fled and was stopped by Dublin police less than a mile away.
Stredney's mental illness was among the reasons that Hart had called off their wedding plans, Zeyen said.
She purchased the gun a week before the shooting and asked police to show her how to use it, claiming she had been a burglary victim and needed to protect herself.
Stredney, of Warren, Ohio, made a lengthy statement in court, saying she had been under a psychiatrist's care for 19 years but "no one knows what's wrong with me."

Gun rights advocates are opposed to any and all attempts to screen prospective gun buyers for mental fitness. This, thay say, would infringe on their god-given fundamental human right to own that particular inanimate object.

The result of all this freedom is in the news every day. Usually it's men shooting women in domestic incidents, but sometimes it's like this.

What's your opinion? Are Ohioans more free or less free because of the gun rights they enjoy?


(cross posted on Mikeb302000)

Please leave a comment.

 

 

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