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A Game-Changer in Ohio?

Okay, so it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s not a poll.

But sometimes in our frantic search for polls, we uncover other interesting things.

There’s a piece of legislation in Ohio called the Ohio Healthy Families Act. The legislation would require Ohio employers to give their employees a minimum of seven paid sick days per year.

You might think this seems like a fairly commonsensical and populist piece of policy in tough economic times. And you’d be right that it has the support of the majority of the state. According to the Zanesville Times Recorder, 76 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Republicans support the initiative.

But, also according to the Zanesville Times Recorder, the legislation is likely to be rejected by the Ohio General Assembly, which tilts heavily Republican, especially in the State Senate (where it’s R 21, D 12).

And so, assuming that the proposal is rejected, the SEIU is going to try and collect 120,000 signatures to put it on the November ballot. Given the organizational resources of a union like the SEIU, and the historical affection for unions in the industrial Midwest, this would seem to be little problem.

Now, I don’t think that the presence of this ballot initiative is likely to increase turnout all that much. But I do think it’s likely to trigger some reasonably significant backlash against Republicans, and give either Democratic candidate an easier time casting themselves as the champion of Ohio’s working class. This is especially the case, obviously, if McCain comes out against the proposal, which I have no idea about.

Anyway, just something to keep an eye out for. It’s a little thing, but just the sort of little thing that can swing elections.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.