As Ohio Republicans won the race for every statewide executive job from the governor on down this year, something different happened in lower-profile races.
The Democrats ran much more competitive in total votes for the 116 Ohio House and Senate elections across the state,found in tabulating the unofficial returns.
It’s a takeaway from Election 2018 that isn’t the usual headline grabber. More importantly, in terms of controlling Ohio’s government, the GOP won 73 of the 116 Statehouse races.
But the Republicans scored their wins for 63 percent of the seats while collecting just over 50 percent of the total vote.
This is a lot like what happened in Ohio’s 16 congressional districts, where Republicans won 75 percent of the seats with just 52 percent of the overall vote.
These are two fresh examples of how skillfully gerrymandered legislative districts can sway the balance of power – especially when one party is in full control of drawing the maps as was the case for the current districts.
The next set of maps will be different to at least some extent.
Scroll below to learn how gerrymandering affected the results of the 2018 election, what the future may hold under reform already approved by Ohio voters, and if change could actually occur before the next state and federal elections in 2020.
Ohioans in 2015 voted to reform the way Statehouse districts will be drawn, beginning in 2021. Then, earlier this year, Ohio voters did the same for congressional districts going forward. The votes for change were not close, passing each time with more than 70 percent support.
The separate reforms carry their own set of rules, but the gist is the same – a new set of 10-year maps cannot be approved without buy-in from both major political parties.
“The problem with gerrymandering is so straight forward and clear cut if you just look at the numbers” from the election returns, said Catherine Turcer, one of the advocates for change as the executive director of Common Cause Ohio.
“I’m so pleased that the voters of Ohio have taken the step to rein in the problem. We deserve to be in control of the elections.”