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In Ohio, a key reason for it had to do with one of the less-studied consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case. By striking down a provision of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, Citizens United freed union political operatives to target nonmembers directly for political purposes for the first time since the 1946 election cycle. In Ohio, organized labor remains a major factor in the state’s politics, and so much of Obama’s organization there consisted of union members targeting nonunion members who seemed likely to vote for the president. Labor, working somewhat under the radar, flexed its muscles in Ohio and other states; and achieved something it is very good at doing, which is deploying its people power to produce specific amount of needed electoral turnout in key places. In that sense, Obama’s victory in Ohio and nationally also had a new New Deal quality, because Roosevelt and Truman built their electoral success on just that kind of voter mobilization by labor union model.


It sounds as if Citizens United might help in races to come then.

Only in the races for the U.S. House of Representatives did that approach not work well for the Democrats in Ohio or nationally. GOP dominance of the redistricting process in Ohio and elsewhere during 2011-12 is responsible for that split picture. With so many congressional districts drawn to maximize Republican representation in Ohio and nationally, substantially altering the House proved beyond the Democrats’ reach. And so the Ohio House delegation, like the larger House of Representatives, will remain firmly in GOP hands, even though Obama and the Democrats generally had as good a night as they could have expected in Ohio and across the nation. Such is the new electoral pattern that seems to be emerging in Ohio and the U.S. more generally. AR

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Professor David Stebenne and an Election Law @ Moritz researcher monitor polling activity and results on Election Day 2012 from Election Central.

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