CV NEWS FEED // Vulnerable Democrats are increasingly concerned about losing their already-slim majorities to a “red wave” in next November’s midterm elections, according to a report from the Associated Press.
“Vulnerable Democrats from Nevada to New Hampshire are promising to make abortion a centerpiece of their political strategy heading into the midterm elections, betting that an intense focus on the divisive issue can rally their voters to beat back a red wave and preserve their narrow majorities in Congress,” the AP reported. But the news agency added that strategists in both parties suggest it may not be so easy.
The news agency noted that Democrats nearly always tout “abortion rights” in “nearly every election cycle,” including in the leadup to the “stunning defeat” of Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe last month. “In most cases, it’s Republicans who have shown to be more motivated by the issue,” the AP wrote.
Nonetheless, Democrats “insist they can convince voters” to join them in defending abortion now, in light of the Supreme Court’s current consideration of the Dobbs case, which could lead to a weakening or even all-out reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Pro-abortion Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada defended the idea of doubling down on abortion in comments to the AP. “This isn’t crying wolf,” she contended. “This is actually happening.” Cortez Masto claims to be Catholic, but supports legal abortion.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs is slated to come out in June, “just ahead of midterm elections that will decide the balance of power in Congress and in statehouses across the country,” the AP noted:
Already braced for a rough year, Democrats have been searching for an issue that can both energize a base deflated by slow progress on various issues in Washington and repair the party’s strained relationship with suburban voters, who may be drifting back toward the GOP in the months since former President Donald Trump left office.
Democratic pollster Molly Murphy recently “surveyed voters across several battleground states on the issue” of abortion. She told the AP she was unconvinced that Democrats’ plan to focus on abortion will be effective with voters:
Democrats likely will not win on abortion if they simply recycle the arguments that Republicans are trying to roll back abortion rights, Murphy said.
A June poll from by AP-NORC showed that, in the second trimester, “about a third” of Americans “said abortion should usually — but not always — be illegal, while roughly as many said it should always be illegal. And a majority — 54% — said abortion in the third trimester should always be illegal,” according to the AP.
When Democrats make abortion central to their messaging, they may agitate and alarm pro-life voters more than they motivate pro-abortion voters, several Democratic strategists warn. The AP pointed to a VoteCast poll which found that “voters who said abortion was the most important issue facing the country voted for Trump over Democrat Joe Biden, 89% to 9%” in 2020.
In a seeming effort to steer Democratic candidates away from the issue, Virginia Democratic Party women’s caucus chair Linda Brooks told the AP: “I didn’t see abortion as a big issue.” “It’s just not on people’s minds,” she claimed.
Nonetheless, David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, vowed that the party would put “the threat that Republicans pose to women’s health care front and center in Senate campaigns,” the AP reported. “And vulnerable Senate Democrats in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire leaned into the issue Wednesday and Thursday.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, “another vulnerable Democrat on the ballot in 2022,” is already campaigning on the threat of Republican-appointed justices “gutting” Roe v. Wade.
Meanwhile, Republican candidates are showing themselves more than willing to go head-to-head with Democrats over the issue of abortion. “Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt joined GOP colleagues from other states in court briefs supporting strict abortion limits in Texas and Alabama,” the AP reported. “Last July, 12 Republican governors and more than 200 Republicans in Congress asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe in legal briefs related to the Mississippi case.”
Laxalt said “he looks forward to standing ‘for the rights of the unborn’ in the Senate,” and in a recent statement, suggested that Democrats will find themselves just as vulnerable on other increasingly disadvantageous policy positions for the Left:
“Catherine Cortez Masto and the Democrats are desperate to distract Nevadans from the massive job losses, sky-high inflation and open border anarchy they have presided over,” Laxalt said in a statement in response to questions about the latest Supreme Court case. “Hiding behind this issue will not save them from the judgment of Nevada voters.”
While Democratic incumbents, candidates, and advisors haggle over their messaging, some representatives of the abortion lobby are expressing concern about what they believe is a real and present possibility: the end the so-called “constitutional right” to abortion.
“The world has changed,” said Jenny Lawson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s vice president of organizing and engagement campaigns, after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Dobbs case. “What happened yesterday was earth shaking.”