‘The world flipped upside down’: will end of Roe galvanize Democrats’ base in midterms? | US midterm elections 2022

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for years, Democrats warned that abortion rights were under serious threat. Across the US, anti-abortion activists in red states have cut access and pushed for conservative judges to secure their gains. But for many Americans, the prospect of losing the constitutional right to abortion that had existed since 1973 remained worrisome, but distant.

That all changed in June, when in Dobbs v Jackson, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the 49-year-old ruling that established the law.

Since then, bans have been enacted in at least 10 states. Republicans are rushing with new restrictions, raising fears that other rights, including same-sex marriage and access to contraception, may also be vulnerable.

And yet, from rural Minnesota to ruby ​​Kansas and a conservative corner of Nebraska, there are signs of a brewing backlash that Democrats say will reshape the battle for control of Congress and state houses this fall.

Republicans are “the dog that caught the bus,” said Cecile Richards, former head of Planned Parenthood. “This is what they’ve wanted for years. Now they own it.”

White House officials, Democratic candidates and party strategists say the loss of reproductive choice has fueled not only their once-disillusioned base, but the Democrats’ appeal among suburban independent and Republican women who have been key to the recent victories. the party, reinforced.

The overwhelming vote to protect abortion rights in conservative Kansas earlier this month gave Democrats even more encouragement — emphasizing that Republicans risk going too far on one of the most emotionally charged issues in American life.

“The world is just completely turned upside down after the Dobbs decision,” said Richards, now co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal Super Pac. “We no longer defend a right. We really have to fight to get a right-back now.”

‘A top problem’

Republicans doubt abortion will be a deciding factor in a midterm election shaped by fears over high gas prices and inflation and an unpopular Democratic president.

“Every public and private poll shows inflation and the economy are the top issues heading into the midterm elections,” said Mike Berg, a spokesman for the Republican National Congressional Committee. “Democrats are desperate to talk about anything else because they have a disastrous track record on both issues.”

But the Democrats go ahead and lash out at Republicans about their uncompromising stances and sometimes bizarre rhetoric about abortion.

To underscore their confidence in the importance of abortion in this election cycle, Democrats are spending a lot of money on television ads on the subject. A particularly searing ad from Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s nominee for governor, contains a sombre montage of women warning that women could be “criminalized” for seeking abortions if Republican governor Brian Kemp is re-elected.

“The only way to stop this attack on the women of Georgia,” the women say, “is to stop Brian Kemp.”

Many of their ads are designed to use the Republicans’ words against them, as part of a broader effort by Democrats to brand the GOP too extreme.

In Michigan, where voters can decide in November to include abortion protection in the state constitution, the Democratic Governors Association launched an ad attacking Republican candidate Tudor Dixon for her opposition to abortion, without exception for rape or incest.

In a similar vein, an ad by Democratic nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, features his far-right opponent, Doug Mastriano, saying, “I don’t make room for exceptions,” even when the mother’s life is in danger.

Polls have shown that most Americans support at least some abortion rights. According to the Pew Research Center, about 60% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 8% say it should be illegal without exception.

The Democrats’ aggressive messages are a reminder of how quickly the politics of abortion has changed.

Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster and strategist who has studied public opinion on abortion, said: “If you asked voters six months ago, ‘What is the top priority that elected leaders should focus on’, abortion could yield 3%, 4 %, maximum 5%. Now it is really a top problem, just behind inflation and the economy.”

Murphy said the resounding defeat of anti-abortion in the Kansas referendum shows voters were motivated by the ability “to prevent something bad from happening.” To channel that anger, she said, Democrats need to convince voters that Republicans not only oppose abortion, but also threaten it.

Some Democrats use Republican language about the scope of government on issues like masking to accuse their opponents of encroaching on individual rights and freedoms when it comes to women’s reproductive health. It’s all part of a broader strategy to portray Republicans as extremists determined to deprive Americans of a right they’ve come to rely on.

The pitch is similar to Democrats’ posts in 2018, when they stormed to victory in the House after thrashing Republicans over attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, said Camille Rivera, a Democratic strategist.

“As we learned with Obamacare, once you have a right, you don’t want that right, really, that right is taken away from you,” she said.

Another key question for November is how much abortion rights will reverberate among independent suburban women who are deeply concerned about the economy. Sarah Longwell, a moderate Republican strategist, said abortion is not usually the first issue raised in focus groups with varying voters. But when asked, the discussion about abortion often became personal.

“What happens when you start talking to a group of women about abortion is that they immediately start telling stories about complications and the things that can go wrong during a pregnancy,” she said in a recent interview.

What’s clear, Longwell said, is that women, even those who call themselves “pro-life,” “feel very uncomfortable with the idea of ​​coming between women and their doctors on decisions that could put their lives at risk.”

‘We live it’

Republicans largely shy away from the issue on the campaign trail. With a total ban proving highly unpopular, some candidates are softening their rhetoric and emphasizing their support for exceptions and for women’s health and well-being. In a battlefield in Nevada, Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt has argued that his personal opposition to abortion would not alter existing protections.

“My views have not changed Nevada policy or the ruling in the Dobbs case,” Laxalt wrote earlier this month. “Voters established in 1990 that Nevada is and will remain a pro-choice state.”

But the problem is hard to ignore. Harrowing stories have spread. A 10-year-old girl who was raped had to travel from Ohio to Indiana to have an abortion. Weeks later, Indiana became the first post-Roe-era state to enact a near-complete ban. This week, a Florida judge told a 16-year-old she was “not mature enough” to decide whether to have an abortion.

“We no longer speak of this as hypothetical,” Murphy said. “We live by it.”

Among Kansans who registered to vote in the wake of the Dobbs ruling, Democrats held an eight-point lead, according to data from TargetSmart. 70% of the newly registered voters were women.

Elsewhere, in a couple of special House elections after Roe, Democrats outperformed expectations, boosted by strong turnout in suburban areas.

In Minnesota’s first district, the Democrat lost by just four points. Donald Trump won there by more than 10 in 2020. The trend was more pronounced in a June election in Nebraska’s first district. Two years ago, Trump won there by nearly 15 points. This year, the Republican won by six.

Analysts warn against drawing firm conclusions from such a small sample. Republicans only need to win a handful of seats to gain control of the House, as they love to do, while the 50-50 Senate remains a real contender.

A special election in New York on Tuesday may offer more clues. In the most competitive House race since Roe fell, the Democrat, Pat Ryan, has put abortion at the center of his campaign. The Republican, Marc Molinaro, has focused on the economy and inflation.

Ryan urged New Yorkers to vote, saying that “choice” and “freedom” were both “on the ballot.”


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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