COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A large majority of Ohioans oppose a proposal to make it more difficult for citizens to amend the state constitution, a Suffolk University/USA Today poll suggests.
More than 57% of 500 voters opposed Issue 1 in a telephone survey conducted July 9-12, according to a Suffolk University release. The measure, which Ohioans will vote on August 8, would raise the threshold to pass citizen-initiated constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60% of the vote and increase the signature-gathering requirements to put issues on the ballot.
Ohioans’ disapproval was evident in all demographics and along nearly every axis measured, including among men, women, white voters, voters of color, age groups and across party lines. Overall, 26.2% of voters in the poll approved Issue 1 – 31 points from the opposition, and well out of reach of the plus or minus 4.4-point margin of error.
Democrats most strongly opposed Issue 1, with 76% voting no. Republicans voted against the measure but within the margin of error – 41% opposed, 38% favored and 21% remain undecided. Overall, 16.6% of those polled were undecided.
What exactly the results mean, however, depends on who ask.
Dennis Willard, communications director of One Person, One Vote, views the poll as a resounding confirmation that Ohioans do not want to make it harder to amend the constitution.
"The fact is, this is not a partisan issue on the 'no' side," Willard said. "Republicans, Democrats, Independents all oppose Issue 1."
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life and a vocal proponent of Issue 1, disagrees that the poll proves anything, much less a landslide defeat of the measure. A 500-person telephone poll isn't the most representative sample of Ohio voters, Gonidakis said -- and answering a poll doesn't necessarily mean a person will cast a ballot.
"Regardless of what that poll said, it comes down to turnout, and our people are going to turn out," Gonidakis said. "We know that for a fact. The pro-life, pro-Second Amendment community are all going to be there."
Issue 1 was opposed across all age ranges, most strongly by the 18-34 age group, with 62% voting against and 25% voting for the measure. Sixty percent of women and 54% of men also voted against Issue 1.
The measure was unpopular across all education levels, although nearly a quarter of those with a high school education or less remain undecided. With 46% voting against and 30% voting for Issue 1, voters in the lowest education group most weakly opposed Issue 1.
Voters in all income brackets also opposed Issue 1. Those making more than $75,000 but less than $100,000 were the least undecided, with 68% voting against, 24% voting for, and 8% being undecided. Voters making less than $20,000 were the most undecided, at 22%, while 28% supported the measure and 50% opposed.
Nearly three-quarters of voters opposing Issue 1 believe Ohio is “on the wrong track,” while only 15% of supporters believe the same.
Both Willard and Gonidakis said as August 8 nears, their respective campaigns are continuing community outreach -- making sure as many Ohioans as possible know there's an election and what their side thinks of the issue. Gonidakis said the poll results only motivate proponents to "work harder."
"The silent majority is still there with us," Gonidakis said.
For Willard, the proof is in the polling: Ohioans are incensed at the idea of changing a 111-year-old constitutional right, he said.
"When they find out that politicians are saying, 'Hey, we know what's best for you, we are going to safeguard your constitution against you,' they get really angry," Willard said.
Voters who would choose Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown over Republican challengers in the 2024 U.S. Senate race overwhelmingly oppose the measure, at 74% across all candidates. In a hypothetical matchup against Brown, supporters of State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Cleveland) and businessman Bernie Moreno favor Issue 1, but narrowly and within the margin of error.
LaRose supporters – one of Issue 1’s most public proponents – slightly oppose the measure, also within the margin of error. As it stands, 40% of those who would choose LaRose over Brown oppose Issue 1, 28% favor it and 22% are undecided.