Why We Lost Issue 1 in Ohio

On Tuesday Ohio voters defeated Issue 1 which would have raised the threshold to amend the Ohio constitution to 60%.  Now that the special election is over Created Equal is preparing to defeat the pro-abortion constitutional amendment on November 7, 2023.

In this special episode, as a lifelong resident of Ohio and a 25-year veteran activist of the abortion battle, Mark provides an analysis of the defeat and some lessons learned for the upcoming abortion amendment battle.

Defeating the abortion amendment in November will establish an anti-abortion beachhead in Ohio from which we can defeat similar pro-abortion measures in other states in 2024. Because as Ohio goes so goes the nation. The stakes couldn’t be any higher.

Ohio is a bellwether state for abortion. The future of the abortion debate hinges on winning Ohio. We need your prayers and support. And if you can come to Ohio to help, please go to CreatedEqual.org/Ohio

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Ohio’s special election is over and issue one goes down to defeat.

For the last several weeks I’ve been talking about this special election which was held yesterday here in the state of Ohio. And that special election was intended to raise the threshold to 60% to amend the Ohio Constitution from a 50% plus one vote to 60%.

Special interests and money interests are coming into the state to try to put policy issues into our founding document, rather than using the legislature, which they have been unable to do. So, on November 7th pro-abortion forces will attempt to enshrine abortion up to the very moment of birth.

Yesterday’s election, unfortunately, went down to defeat. Issue one was defeated, and it wasn’t even close. 57% voted no and 42% voted yes. That’s a lopsided victory for the other side.

Why is this important? Well, we need to learn from our mistakes. We need to learn from what happened here in Ohio, so we don’t repeat it in other states. And especially when it comes to November’s election.

Where did we go wrong? Why is it that ISSUE one failed?

Let’s deal with politics first.

There are a couple of things that made it difficult for the yes vote to win. Number one, the yes side is always at a disadvantage when it comes to constitutional amendments. Why? Because they are trying to change the status quo. And a lot of people, including myself, don’t often want to change the status quo.

Raising that threshold to 60% is a big change. Americans don’t generally want radical change. They tend to prefer the status quo. I’m even that way with a lot of issues.

Number two, we had to accomplish two tasks. First, we had to prove that there was a problem to be fixed. We said that there were outside interests coming in to try to buy a piece of the Ohio Constitution.

Ohioans didn’t buy it. Frankly, we have seen some abuse in the past. For example, gambling is in our Constitution. That should be a policy issue left for the legislature.

I don’t think Ohioans were convinced that there was a big enough problem to be remedied by this vote. So, I don’t think voters perceived it to be a problem with Ohio voters because there hadn’t been enough violations.

That said, we’re going to be seeing more attempts to change the Constitution coming down the pike. We already see it with gun rights. We’re seeing it with removing qualified immunity for police officers. They’re already circulating petitions for 2024 to put that into our Constitution. We’re seeing attempts to put legalizing recreational marijuana into our Ohio Constitution. We’re going to see more of these types of abuses of our Constitution down the road.

But I don’t think Ohioans are convinced that it was enough of a problem currently to change the status quo. I don’t think they believed that the solution matched the perceived problem. The opposition to Issue 1 one only had to confuse the issue and confuse the voter.

It was also confusing because people are being asked to vote yes on August 8th and then no on November 7th. So, there were two votes coming up and I think people might have got those confused. I was constantly having to explain the difference to people.

That is the pro-life, conservative Republican side, pro-constitutional side to vote yes on August 8th and no in November to defeat the abortion amendment. So, I think there was a little confusion, and that probably helped the no side. Also, it’s summer. This is a special election. I think people are out of their routines. A lot of people are on vacation.

They’re just not thinking about politics. They’re not engaged. That probably worked against us. And the other side, the left, that is.

Democrats and pro-abortion activists are typically very good at voter turnout. We got killed about 2 to 1 in early voting. Now, that’s often the case, but I think we could have done some things differently to turn out earlier.

The vote no side framed the argument, or the question based on taking away voter rights. Voter rights are sacrosanct with Americans. This is an understood ideal of Americans.

Ohioans don’t want voter rights taken away. The other side did a really good job of framing the argument that voting yes would take away individual voter rights. And that was juxtaposed against those who were saying that there was a threat to the Ohio Constitution and that we needed to protect the Ohio Constitution from outside money and special interests.

I don’t think that was persuasive. Unfortunately, for a couple of reasons. First, most people don’t even know the Ohio Constitution exists, to be honest with you. It’s been amended 172 times. It’s something that doesn’t affect people’s lives very often. So, they just don’t really care. We were talking about protecting the Ohio Constitution.

And I just don’t think people care that much about it. We are living in a post-constitutional America where the Constitution really doesn’t matter to people much anymore. And we are becoming more and more a nation governed by men, not by the rule of law, not by our U.S. Constitution.

We see it being trampled all the time by the left, by the Marxists. Right. We see that currently with our president and all the things that are happening with the Department of Justice and the taking away of free speech and so forth and so on. And the deep state, we’re seeing that as a problem. And I think a lot of Americans just don’t simply care about the U.S. Constitution anymore.

I don’t think people care about the federal Constitution, and they certainly don’t care that much about their state constitutions.

Now, let’s move on to what the pro-life movement can learn from this. Let’s get past this idea that the reason we’re losing these votes is because of money.

Obviously, money has a lot to do with it. When you have money, you can buy ads. When you have money, you can turn out the vote. You can do a lot of things with money. But we’re always going to lose the money battle. We’re going to be out-funded because the other side is much better at this. They outspend us every single time.

So, when we say that it’s about money, we need to get over it. Either we compete, or we don’t. And if we don’t, then we’ve got to get better at getting our message out even though we’re going to be outspent.

Our messaging was weak. Americans, for the most part, want abortion to be illegal, or at least in the first trimester of pregnancy,

The vote no side made it about abortion. And when our side was asked about abortion, what did we say? “No, it’s not about abortion.” It’s about the Constitution and protecting it.

The fact is, Issue 1 was about abortion. Everybody knew it. Yet the other side was the only one that was willing to go out front and say that it was about abortion as we were making excuses as to why it wasn’t.

There are voices in our movement saying, “Life is winning.” Well, I have got news for you. We’re losing on abortion post-Roe. We may have overturned Roe vs. Wade, but we haven’t overturned abortion.

Roe is dead, but abortion is alive in America and in many states like Ohio.

On the positive side, 14 states have banned abortion and I’m thankful for that. We continue to add more states to that side of the ledger. I’m glad Roe vs. Wade was overturned because it removed a huge impediment.

So now that we can go straight to our legislatures to make abortion laws. But that isn’t the end game. As we all know. We need a federal remedy for abortion. That solution needs to come through a Supreme Court decision that recognizes the right of the unborn as persons as we understand it in the 14th Amendment, or it must be a law coming through Congress, signed by the by the President that would ban all abortions from the time of fertilization.

Beyond that, we may need a constitutional amendment, which takes two-thirds of Congress in three-quarters of the states to ratify. So, we must have a federal remedy. But right now, it’s a state-by-state battle. And friends, we’re losing. We are 0 for 6. We will go 0 for 7 if we lose Ohio.

So, life isn’t winning. It’s a nice thought. It’s a positive thought. It helps to raise money. It helps to get donors to write checks. It gets people pumped up. It’s the power of positive thinking. We don’t want to constantly be negative. There are some good things happening.

But as a rule across America, life is not winning. The abortion industry is on the march and women want their abortions. They just do. We’ve got to change that. Change comes through grassroots activism. That means changing hearts and minds with the truth about abortion, using abortion victim photography and video, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We need to make these a national effort. When these constitutional amendments come up, like in the state of Ohio, this becomes a referendum for the nation on abortion.

If you are a leader of a pro-life organization, you need to come to Ohio. This is it. If we lose Ohio pro-abortion forces will take this across the country. The dominoes may begin to fall in other states. If they win in Ohio, they’re going to be emboldened to take this to other states.

If we can beat them in Ohio, this could be our beachhead. This could be where we say, “no more. You’re not taking this anywhere else. We’ve drawn the line in the sand and you’re not going to cross over.”

In the past made an analogy to the abortion issue being like a land war.

Now, I don’t mean with guns and tanks and bombs and soldiers. In a post-Roe world, we have the divided states of America. We have pro-life states. We have pro-abortion states. Kind of like what we had when there were slave states and free states. That’s the landscape right now in the country.

There are abortion havens. That’s where abortion is legal up to the very moment of birth. Where we have states like California, New York, and Illinois.

Then we have states where abortion has been outlawed. For all intents and purposes, they’re abortion-free states. In the middle, we have Ohio and other states where the abortion issue is currently undecided. Ohio’s one of those battlegrounds.

I look at this almost like a land war. We need to take the resources from the abortion havens and reallocate and redistribute our resources, both manpower and money into states that we can win.

We need a beachhead. We need a Normandy Beach, so to speak, in the land war of abortion in America.

Ohio could be our Normandy Beach if we were to make this a national referendum on abortion. If every pro-life leader and pro-lifer in the country were to focus all their energy, time, money, and resources in the state of Ohio we would win.

But unfortunately, we’re a fragmented movement. We’re dysfunctional in many regards. We don’t work together. We’re not unified. We have individual organizations representing states or regions doing different things, and that’s good. I’m glad there is diversity.

We don’t have one general. We have several generals. But as best we can, we need to come together and unify in states like Ohio and defeat these measures because we need a beachhead. We’ve got to have that Normandy Beach.

So, I’m calling everybody to come to Ohio. We’ve got three months, August, September, and October before the November 7th vote. The fate of our nation rides on Ohio. So, if you can come to Ohio, please do contact us at createdequal.org/ohio.

If you can fund the work. Send us a check. Give us some money. Help us out. We’ve got an aggressive plan for the next three months to try to turn the tide on this and win in November. So, we need outside help, and we need people to come to Ohio as foot soldiers to go door to door and do all the other types of outreach campaigns that we wage here at created equal.

We were unprepared for the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. We didn’t see this coming, and we should have. I honestly didn’t see it coming. To be honest, I didn’t know if Roe v Wade would be overturned.

The other side has been planning for this for years. They’ve seen it coming and they were ready to go on day one when Roe was overturned last summer. They moved into the state of Michigan, and they claimed their first big victory. And ever since then, they’ve been on the move. They’re on the march, and we have been behind the eight ball. We’re still playing catch-up.

And for the last year, many of the pro-life groups have been still celebrating the Roe v Wade decision. I celebrated for one night, and I thanked God. Then I was back to work. I’m grateful that Roe was overturned. But I’m not holding Galas. I’m not holding fundraisers because we overturned Roe.

As we were having these celebration sessions, Rome has been burning. We need to get active. Roe is dead, but abortion is still very much alive, and we need to get busy. I’m asking you to come to Ohio to help us out. We got three months to turn this thing back.

Now, let me tell you why I think the November election could be different than the special election that we just saw here in Ohio. The life message or the anti-abortion message is going to be stronger and more persuasive than the protect our constitutional message.

The churches will be activated more so than they would be on a constitutional amendment to raise the threshold to 60%. So, I think that we can turn out our base. We need to motivate our people.

3 million votes were cast in the special election. That’s a lot. That’s a huge turnout. That mirrors what we’ll likely see in November. So, we can look at the vote yesterday in this special election, which was 57 – 43%. That may be what it’ll be like in November. This is true. However, we can shave off some of those percentage points.

Remember a no vote has an advantage over a yes vote. They now have the burden to get people to vote yes, to amend the Constitution, to enshrine abortion up to the very moment of birth. That is not our burden now. Our burden is a no vote. Our burden is if you don’t want to make drastic changes, or extreme changes to the Ohio Constitution, vote no.

So, we have the advantage of being on the no side in November. That may account for 2 to 3 points right out of the block.

We need to make it about abortion because it is. And every voter in Ohio knows that.

Yes, it’s about parental rights. And we can move some numbers with that message. It’s also about sex change surgeries. It’s about a lot of issues that will resonate with certain voters. But the thing that will move our people to get out to vote and to motivate them to campaign and get them active in the grassroots effort is abortion.

This campaign needs to focus on painful late-term abortions. Seven out of ten Americans and seven out of ten Ohioans are opposed to late-term abortions. So, we’re going to be running ads here that focus on late-term abortion and how that would be enshrined in the Ohio Constitution.

The final thing is we need to get out the vote early. I want to thank the Susan B Anthony group for coming up with some major funding at the end. I think the deficit might have been even worse without their support.

We need to be ready to hit the pavement right after Labor Day or maybe even sooner. So, we have a fair shot of winning in November if we make this a national referendum on abortion and every able-bodied person comes to Ohio.

If we can just get out the vote and motivate the churches and our base, we can prevail on November 7th here in Ohio and defeat this measure that would enshrine abortion up to the very moment of birth. All right.

So, I want to give kudos to everybody who invested in that effort, because it wasn’t for a lack of effort that we lost.

So, it was a heroic effort. I want to thank everybody who weighed in. And let me just finish with this. Today is a sad day for our state.

But let me leave you with some encouragement scripturally. In John chapter 16:33.

Jesus said this, “I’ve told you these things so that in me you may have peace in this world, you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.”

That’s where we find our peace. We believe that God’s plan is being worked out sovereignly throughout time and eternity, nation by nation throughout the world.

I believe that today. I believed that yesterday, irrespective of the outcome last night in the special election.

God is sovereign and he’s working his purposes to establish and advance his kingdom. And he’s doing that irrespective of our efforts. But he says that take heart because you will have trouble in this world.

Take heart. He has overcome the world. These are encouraging and comforting messages from our Lord that we, through Him, can overcome the world just as He did. And so do not let this outcome trouble you. Continue the fight but remain close to the Lord because He has overcome the world.

But now we are focused like a laser on November 7th, which is the next big vote here in Ohio. And we need to make this a national effort.

So, friends, here’s my call to action. If you are anywhere in the United States, you can help. You can make phone calls. You can donate. You can contact voters in the state of Ohio, tell them to get out the vote, and you can come to Ohio.

We need you to come. And we’re going to be calling everybody to come to Ohio. We’ll put you up and we’ll put you in the game because this is for all the marbles here in the state of Ohio, because there are 8 to 12 of these constitutional amendments that are likely going to be on the ballot in 2024.

We can’t let Ohio fall to the enemy.

I’ll finish with this. This morning, I created a banner that says, “No regrets.” I hung it over the door to our office. I told our staff, when it comes to effort, when it comes to the amount of time and resources that we put forward, I want them to have no regrets. Come November 8th, one day after the vote here in Ohio.

I pray that you will have no regrets as well. So, join us. Come to Ohio. It’s the mother of all battles. And as I said before, as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Let’s -let’s establish a beachhead against the abortion industry here in Ohio. You can be part of it. Go to createdequal.org/Ohio.