Ohio Voters Choose Dem Pols, GOP Judges:

The GOP has dominated Ohio politics for years. Going into last night, there were no statewide elected Democrats other than one member of the state Supreme Court (for which party affiliation is not noted on the ballot). No longer. The Democrats won all but one of the non-judicial statewide races. Given that most of these races were not particularly close, it seems clear that voters were sick of the corruption, incompetence, and unprincipled governance of the Ohio GOP during the Taft years.

Interestingly enough, Republicans won both state Supreme Court races, creating an all-Republican Court. One candidate, Terrence O'Donnell, was running for reelection. The other, Robert Cupp, won an open seat. The Court's lone Democrat, Justice Resnick, had not sought reelection, largely due to a DUI scandal. While the court will continue to be divided along ideological lines on many issues, such as school funding and tort reform, many cases that would have been 4-3 are now likely to be decided 5-2.

What explains the GOP success in judicial races? Is it due to judicial candidates lack of party identification on the ballot? Or is it something else peculiar about judicial races, such as the lack of issues (or, perhaps, lack of media attention)? Or do Ohio voters intuitively prefer more conservative jurists even as they give more liberal politicians a try? I am not sure, but it is an interesting aspect of last night's outcomes.

Anonymous Jim (mail):
I am sure, in this instance, O'Donnell and Cupp were helped by the fact that party affiliation does not appear on the ballot. Throw in the fact that the Republicans had a lot more money and the fact that the advertisements basically just are out there to increase name recognition, it is understandable how the Republicans won.
11.8.2006 8:10am
Daryl Herbert (www):
Judges have nothing to do with Iraq, and voting for them isn't seen in any way as a referendum on Bush/Rumsfeld

It's also a great way for conservatives to balance their vote for a Dem with long-term support for conservatism.
11.8.2006 8:35am
Justin (mail):
A couple of things

1) Money

2) Lack of name identifier prevents a straight Dem ticket vote

3) A higher level of passion from the GOP base when it comes to judges than the Dem base

It's that third thing, amongst others, that the much maligned ACS is trying to alter. The judiciary matters, and Dems can't win those battles till they spend the required effort defeating the untrue-but-effective mantra of "we're just following the law, not making it."
11.8.2006 8:37am
Ryan Waxx:
Maybe it simply means that Ohio is still mainly a republican state. After all, dissatisfaction from 'the base' would hardly extend to judges... who don't interact with the white house at all.
11.8.2006 10:13am
monboddo (mail):
Democrats won over a dozen races statewide; the Republicans won two judgeships in which party affiliation did not appear on the ballot. I think it's a real stretch to read any larger significance into these victories, much less any voter preference for more conservative jurists.
11.8.2006 10:21am
JosephSlater (mail):
As an Ohio voter, I agree with monboddo. Even within my university and law school community, there are still folks who don't know which is the liberal/Dem. judge and which is the conservative/Repub. judge in various races.
11.8.2006 10:29am
Judges almost always win reelection. Thus, the question is basically what larger trends can be inferred from the fact that ONE Republican, whose party affiliation did not even appear on the ballot, won an open seat.

I think it's a fairly silly question. It's hard to imagine that a significant number of voters had any idea whether this individual had a "conservative judicial philosophy"; judicial elections are almost always low-information affairs.
11.8.2006 10:58am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
monboddo --

"Democrats won over a dozen races statewide"? How do you figure? There were not that many statewide races.

The Dems won the Senate seat, Gov &Lt. Gov (which are elected together, SoS, Treasurer, and AG. The GOP won Auditor. That means the Dems won 5 out of 6 non-judicial races.

The only other statewide contests were for the Supreme Court.

11.8.2006 11:01am
Cupp was probably most aided by the fact that his name was opposite Ben Espy's.
11.8.2006 11:11am
Tim (mail):
It is also a reaction of the Ohio Supreme Court trying to dictate public school funding a few years back. They are sick of Republican corruption and also sick of judicial activism.
11.8.2006 11:56am
Is there any chance DeRolph could be overruled?
11.8.2006 1:18pm
John T (mail):
In North Carolina, where judges' political affiliations do show up on the ballots, Democrats routinely sweep the statewide elections for the Council of State (basically the entire Cabinet, even including things like the Secretary of Agriculture) while Republicans do the same for the State Court of Appeals and State Supreme Court.
11.8.2006 3:05pm
Ohio guy:
In response to:

Judges have nothing to do with Iraq, and voting for them isn't seen in any way as a referendum on Bush/Rumsfeld

I ask:

And what, precisely, does the average State official have to do with Iraq? Is the State Attorney General now setting strategy, or the State Treasurer funding the war?

I'm not denying that people do routinely punish unrelated officials, but it's a rather silly practice, in my view.
11.8.2006 7:07pm