Republicans facing 'a no-win conundrum' after Ohio ballot measure fails: report

Republicans facing 'a no-win conundrum' after Ohio ballot measure fails: report
COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 26: Voters use an optional paper ballot voting booth as they cast their ballots early for the May 3 Primary Election at the Franklin County Board of Elections polling location on April 26, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. Last week, Former President Donald Trump announced his endorsement of J.D. Vance in the Ohio Republican Senate primary. Other challengers in the Republican Senate primary field include Josh Mandel, Mike Gibbons, Jane Timken, Matt Dolan and Mark Pukita. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images).

A solid majority of voters in Ohio rejected a ballot measure on Tuesday night that would have raised the threshold to amend the state constitution to sixty percent. In Clark County, Issue 1's failure was decided by one ballot, Cincinnati's WCPO notes. But what Republicans had hoped would be the means to an end of outlawing abortion in the Buckeye State turned into a referendum on conservative politics, NBC News correspondent Sahil Kapur explains.

"Republican strategists face a no-win conundrum. Retreating on abortion would infuriate the majority of their base that wants to ban the procedure, while their current strategy is alienating a formidable slice of swing voters who favor some GOP positions but oppose the party's stance on reproductive rights," Kapur writes. "The end of Roe v. Wade drove voters toward Democrats in the 2022 elections and since then, abortion opponents have lost a series of state elections: a ballot measure in Kansas, this year's Wisconsin Supreme Court race and now Ohio's Issue 1 ballot measure."

Kapur notes that heading into 2024, "the Republican Party remains divided. Anti-abortion activists want to lean into the issue and fight harder, while some GOP leaders prefer to downplay it and pivot to other topics friendlier to their party. Others say the Ohio defeat was about a spending advantage by pro-abortion rights groups that opposed Issue 1."

READ MORE: Ohio voters reject GOP 'power grab' aimed at thwarting abortion rights amendment

Across the aisle, Kapur continues, Democrats view Issue 1's defeat as a harbinger of public sentiment toward abortion in next year's presidential election, likely to be a second showdown between incumbent President Joe Biden and thrice-indicted former President Donald Trump.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told Kapur that "as long as sex is salient, as long as people can get pregnant, this issue is remaining very salient" and "very motivating." Lake also said that "this is going to be the roadmap for 2024. Because issues matter," adding that "Democrats should just not underestimate this issue and should continue to utilize it."

Lake also believes that "our voters are more mobilized than theirs" and that "the Dobbs ruling gives Democrats an opening against Trump that they lacked in 2016. She lamented that voters didn't believe Trump would actually fight to restrict abortion. But over his four years as president, Trump put three justices on the Supreme Court — all provided decisive votes to end the right to legal abortion."

Trump's legacy and his "linkage to the Court," Lake stressed, are "very, very clear to voters."

READ MORE: Ohio’s GOP secretary of state brutally mocked after his amendment goes down in flames

Kapur's complete analysis is available at this link.

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