Issue 2 After Some Thought

I’ve switched to a NO on Issue 2, but that doesn’t mean we should just leave our politically motivated redistricting method alone.  Some flags that I mentioned in my earlier post include the switch of authority from elected officials to unelected political figures and the support from liberal and progressive groups.  While California’s seats seem to be more regularly shaped with respect to region, the complaint was that political characters were still influential in its outcome.  A much better state to look at is Iowa (explanation from Ballotpedia) which uses a non-political computer program.  When entering the population data into the computer, they include ONLY population – not race, voting history, income, etc.  This is then voted up or down in the legislature.  Clean and simple.

Issue 2 would give responsibility to the judicial branch to make initial selections for this Redistricting Commission, and the judges don’t want it!  Who can fault them?  Most judges do their best to stay out of political mudfights, and this amendment would put them at the front line.  In fact, the only judges who might want this assignment would be the ones who are intent on causing mischief.  It’s rare that people are offered a degree of power only to turn it down, so we need to really appreciate that viewpoint.

With regard to Issue 1, I’ve leaned against that as well.  Ohio has made a number of amendments over the years, and it is a relatively easy process.  I’ve been on the losing side of some of these amendments (I am against term limits, for example), but that’s the way it works in a democracy.  The Ohio Constitution could use some good editing, and I don’t think we (the tea party) should be afraid that progressives will run roughshod over us im a convention, but a this might be overkill for the time being.

What a Difference a Few Days Make

This week we were finally getting some state and national polls done completely after the first Presidential debate, and what a swing towards Romney.  In the RealClearPolitics average, Romney has swung from down 2+ points to being up by almost a point.  And with the Electoral Map, the Great Lakes states that I was worried about on Monday have now tipped to toss-up territory.  Even the 538 Blog with its secret formula has Obama’s chances of winning the election down to 61% and his chances of winning Ohio at 64%.

RCP October 12 MapThe Ohio-plus-one strategy is becoming an easier get for Romney, and there are also some combinations that don’t include either Ohio or Virginia.  The no-toss-up map has Romney winning North Carolina, Florida, and now Colorado giving him 244 votes.  Obama’s lead in Virginia and New Hampshire are both less than 1 percent which would bring his total to 261.  Two points separate Obama from Romney in both Nevada, which is only six votes, and Ohio, which would put Romney over the top.  Finally in order, we have Wisconsin, Iowa, and now Michigan and Pennsylvania also within five point toss-up territory.

So it is by no means over and we still have four weeks left but there is clearly a big shift towards Romney and away from Obama.  Last night was the Vice-Presidential debate where Biden laughed 82 times.  On election night, I hope that the laughing will be from the other side of the aisle.

Issue 2 and Redistricting for 2014

(Update:  A week later, I’ve read and listened more about Issue 1 and Issue 2 and I have changed my mind.  I am now leaning against Issue 1 although I’m not final on that, and I am very likely to vote against Issue 2.  I should have appreciated the big red flag when I wrote in that second paragraph “a common theme among progressive thought.”  Redistricting needs to be changed to make districts more competitive and Republicans should not be afraid of that.)

I’ve looked at Issue 2 (text from Ballotpedia) with an instinct to vote in favor of it.  It would create a non-partisan / bi-partisan commission to draw the district boundaries.  Republicans are opposed to it, but they have been drawing Ohio maps for 20 years and I don’t necessarily trust them.  Progress Ohio, Planned Parenthood, and other liberal groups are in favor of it and I certainly don’t trust them!  So what is a person to do?

Those in favor are simply tired of the existing process and want to take the power out of the elected hands and give it to unelected politicrats… a common theme among progressive thought.  Those opposed say that at least the elected officials are accountable to the public, but who in reality runs ads against officials in gerrymandered districts because of redistricting?  The opposition also complains that it could be a cesspool of runaway spending, which is a dubious claim but certainly possible.  They also say that “Yes the system needs fixed but we can’t fix it THIS way.”  Ugh – if they spent a nickel every time they said that.

Another more honest criticism is the similarity to the language used in California.  California’s 2012 election problems involved both in the borders and also with the free-for-all primary fight.  California is dealing with 53 congressional seats, and just en eyeball look at the new map shows that the new districts have a more regular shape as opposed to the noodle lines separating some of the older districts.  It also appears to be true that California Democrats will get a few more seats in the next Congress because of the borders.

Passage of Issue 2 would set up a commission to redraw districts for the 2014 elections.  So now that poor old Dennis Kucinich lost his seat to Toledo’s Marcy Kaptur, new districts would be drawn that should be more respectful to localities.

Would this new map be more favorable to Ohio’s Democrats?  Probably yes.  How is it that polls have Ohio as a toss-up state yet our congressional delegation is 75-25 Republican?  It’s really not an honest representation.

So having written this through, I think I’m voting for Issue 2 if only to fix the mess that happened this year.  And on a related unrelated note, Issue 1 calls for an Ohio Constitutional Convention which is put on the ballot every 20 years.  The last convention was in 1900, and issues like districting, term limits, and gambling could be revisited.  I might vote for that as well.

Ohio: 30 Days Away

I admit that I am fairly concerned about Ohio’s vote next month.  The September polls that were showing a 6-10 point Obama lead are tightening up after the first Denver debate.  I shared in the skepticism of the samples being skewed to the Democrat side, but when each and every poll shows the same result, there’s an instinct to begin believing it.  I remember hearing years ago that polling firms that had a bias also still had an interest in being right, so they would put out whatever story they wanted through September and October as long as they revised it to match the truth by November.

Both Romney and Obama have made weekly stops here in Ohio for the last month.  Obama will usually make his stops in the cities like Cleveland, Toledo, and Cincinnati, no longer making visits to places like Tuscarawas County that helped him to pad his margin of victory in 2008.  Romney’s visits have been to the outer suburbs of the major markets in places like Lake County, Akron, and to Paul Ryan’s Miami University between Dayton and Cincinnati.

Nate Silver of the 538 Blog has the Obama chance of winning Ohio at 79%, but he also has Ohio as the most likely tipping point state.  Whoever can win Ohio’s 18 electoral votes will have an easier path to victory.  Other close states at the moment are Colorado (9), Iowa (6), and New Hampshire (4) and even if Romney wins those three (as well as Virginia and Florida, two states that Silver still has as blue), an Obama victory in Ohio would put him over the 270 mark.  If Romney wins Ohio (plus VA and FL), then he still needs to carry one of those remaining swing states to win the election.

Other states that I was hoping would be more competitive are the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  Minnesota is not on the Great Lakes, but it is the Land of 10,000 Lakes so we include that state as well as Illinois which are completely unwinnable.  The Great Lakes states are like dominoes where Indiana is the most red followed by Ohio.  If Ohio doesn’t fall the Republicans way, then it’s very unlikely that any of the other states will fall.