August 2 Primary Election
Ohio is finally done with primary elections in 2022. In Clermont County, only 6.6% of all registered voters turned out for the August 2 primary. Turnout by registered Democrats was 18.4%, by Republicans was 20.4%.
Congratulations go to Ben Brady who was elected as Democratic State Central Committee man from the 14th state senate district. The district covers Clermont, Brown, Adams, and Scioto counties. The race was close. Unofficial results show that Ben won by 70 votes out of 3,572 votes cast. Ben’s 531 vote win in Clermont County made the difference.
Congratulations also go to Brian Flick who is now the official Democratic candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives from the 62nd District. This year, the 62nd district covers the cities of Loveland and Milford and the townships of Goshen, Miami, Stonelick, and Union. Voters in that district who want to stop Ohio’s decline must get out and vote for Brian in November.
Last, but certainly not least, congratulations to Rich Perry who won nomination as the Democratic candidate for the State House from the 63rd district as a write-in candidate. The 63rd district covers all of Clermont County not in the 62nd district and the western portion of Brown County. This is a very tough district for a Democrat. Democrats in District 63 need to do everything they can for Rich Perry.
Democratic and progressive groups regularly hold voter registration drives. The motivation is the belief that there is a pool of eligible voters who are not registered to vote but who will vote for Democratic candidates if we can get them registered. This is true in some places, but the numbers suggest it is not true in Clermont County.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the age 18 and over population of Clermont County is 162,473. We know that, as of July 11, 2022, the County had 144,366 registered voters. If you do the math, those numbers say that 88.9% of the people eligible to vote in Clermont County are already registered to vote. The percentage is really a little higher since the Census data is counting all people, not just people eligible to vote. The over age 18 population number undoubtedly includes some people who are not U.S. citizens and are, therefore, not eligible to vote.
Ideally, everyone eligible to vote would be registered. However, one hundred percent voter registration is not attainable. There are always some people who do not want their names in a government database or who still believe the myth that registering to vote makes you more likely to be called for jury duty. It is impossible to say how many people live in the County who are eligible to vote and willing to vote, but who are simply not registered. The numbers suggest, however, that it is not a huge group.
Still, every vote matters, right? Every vote does matter, but the numbers strongly suggest that, in our county, unfocused voter registration drives are more likely to produce new Republican voters than Democratic voters. There are 35,903 registered Republicans in the County and 12,185 registered Democrats. In other words, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats almost 3 to 1 in Clermont County. That is consistent with general election voting results in which our candidates usually receive between 30% and 35% of the vote. There is no evidence to support a belief that the proportion of people favoring Republicans is significantly different among the roughly 11% of Clermont Countians not registered to vote.
Registering new Republican voters simply does not help us. The County does not have geographic areas we can go to expecting to find a meaningful number of unregistered Democratic voters. None of this is meant to say that we should never try to register new voters. If you are with people whom you perceive are likely Democrats, please ask if they are registered. It doesn’t hurt to have a registration form or two with you in case someone is not registered to vote.
GOTV! (Get Out The Vote!)
Winning races in Clermont County requires persuading Republican voters to vote for a Democratic candidate. Social science research shows that most people do not vote for a candidate based on her positions on issues or her proposed policies. Most people vote for the person whom they like and trust more. While we can help by telling people in our networks about our candidates, vouching for them if you will; building the requisite trust with voters is primarily up to the candidates. So, what can we as grass-roots Democrats do?
In 2022, we can get more people who are already Democrats out to vote. There is a huge falloff in voter turnout between years with a Presidential election and years without. In 2012, a presidential year, Clermont County voter turnout was 73.11% of registered voters. Two years later, when we were only voting for state offices, turnout fell to 38.51%. In presidential year 2016, turnout in the County was back at 73.9%. In 2018, when we elected a U.S. Senator and a Governor, turnout fell to 57.25%. Moreover, some data suggest that voters who do not turn out in non-presidential years are disproportionately Democrats. In the presidential year 2012, Sherrod Brown received over 2,000 more votes in Clermont County than when he ran again in the non-presidential year 2018.
In 2018, our candidate for Governor, Rich Cordray, received almost 30% of the County’s votes and Sherrod Brown received almost 35%. If we can get 7,200 more people to vote for Nan Whaley and Tim Ryan in 2022, we likely get those percentages to 35% and 40% respectively. No, it isn’t carrying the County, but it is a significant contribution towards statewide wins for both candidates. As Ted Strickland once told me, “In a statewide race, a vote in Clermont County counts the same as a vote in Cuyahoga County.” Nan and Tim will persuade some Republicans to vote for them instead of Mike DeWine and J.D. Vance. Brian Flick may also bring out some voters in state house district 62 who vote for him who vote Democratic up ballot. Our first job is to make sure there are no Democratic voters in Clermont County who do not vote in the November election.
Our second job is to get our voters to vote the entire ballot. It is very important to bring out votes for Chelsea Clark, our candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, and for Taylor Sappington, our candidate for State Auditor. Along with the Governor, the Secretary of State and the State Auditor are the deciding members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The Commission automatically includes one Democrat and one Republican from each of the Ohio House and Ohio Senate. The Commission will be drawing new General Assembly districts (and possibly new congressional districts) for 2024. It is critical that there are at least four Democrats on that seven-member commission.
Another set of critical races in 2022 is for justices of the Ohio Supreme Court. Judge Marilyn Zayas from the Court of Appeals in Hamilton County and Judge Terri Jamison from the Court of Appeals in Franklin County are running for different seats on the Supreme Court. Their opponents are both incumbent Republicans who, among other undesirable decisions, consistently voted to uphold the Republicans’ gerrymandered General Assembly and congressional districts this year despite the requirements of the Ohio Constitution. As the far-right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court continues to take away our rights under the U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution will become a more important source of individual rights. The Ohio Supreme Court has the last word on the meaning of our Ohio Constitution.
Last, but also important, Justice Jennifer Brunner, who already sits on the Ohio Supreme Court, is running for Chief Justice. Justice Brunner, the only woman to ever serve as Ohio Secretary of State, is a strong supporter of voting rights. Elevating her to the position of Chief Justice will give her more tools to counter the Republicans in the General Assembly who want to reduce the number of Ohioans who vote.
I’ve given you a sort of long list of candidates. However, each of the races I talked about above is vitally important if we want to take back our state. We must get every Democrat and every Democratically leaning independent out to vote for these candidates in November.
Please do not forget that Covid is still with us. Having had the disease this summer, I can tell you with certainty that you do not want it. Be careful!