Now, analysts said, that effort could carry over into 2012, and national organizations are pouring millions into both sides of the referendum battle.
“The organizational efforts seem to be reviving portions of the Democratic coalition and that will likely have a beneficial effect on the presidential campaign for the Democrats,” said John C. Green, director of the Bliss Institute at the University of Akron.
The apparent unpopularity of the measure was highlighted this week when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declined to endorse the law after visiting a Cincinnati call center where volunteers were working to build support for it.
But after being criticized for ducking the issue by conservative groups and fellow presidential aspirant Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Romney said Wednesday in Virginia that he was “110 percent” behind the measure.
Kasich, who was elected in a 2010 GOP surge, championed the law that eliminated many collective-bargaining rights for Ohio’s 350,000 public employees earlier this year. The legislative debate over the law drew thousands of protesters to the state Capitol in Columbus. Once the measure was enacted, opponents gathered 1.3 million signatures to put it on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Kasich said the law gives local governments in Ohio the tools they need to cut government spending, while ensuring that public employees pay for a fair share of their benefits.
He joined Republican governors in states including Wisconsin, Florida and New Jersey who sought to balance budgets by cutting government services and wresting deep concessions from public workers, in some cases by curbing the power of unions.
But some of those actions have fueled a political backlash.
In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing a recall campaign that begins gathering signatures next month. That campaign came after union-led activists forced a series of recall elections that resulted in two GOP state senators losing their seats, leaving Republicans clinging to a one-vote majority in Wisconsin’s Senate.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has seen his approval ratings plummet after he implemented a series of deep budget cuts, championed corporate tax cuts and eliminated 15,000 public-sector jobs.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of Ohio voters disapprove of Kasich’s job performance, making him the most unpopular governor in the country, according to a recent survey by Public Policy Polling.
The law to limit collective bargaining is faring no better. A Quinnipiac poll this week found that 57 percent of Ohio voters support repeal of the law, while 32 percent oppose it. Opponents of the law have increased their lead since last month, when they held a 51-38 percent margin.