Supreme Court ruling on abortion upsets midterm elections


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday catapulted the explosive battle over abortion rights to the center of several high-profile midterm races, turning the fight over key gubernatorial contests and coveted Senate seats into heated debates over personal liberty and freedom. public health.

Devastated Democrats, facing staggering political challenges amid high inflation and President Biden’s low approval ratings, hoped the decision could invigorate disgruntled grassroots voters. They also saw the moment as another chance to retain moderate suburban voters who helped them win recent elections.

Republicans, for their part, publicly celebrated the decision as the culmination of a decades-long effort, though some strategists — and former President Donald J. Trump — privately acknowledged that the issue created at least some risk for a party that has enjoyed months of political momentum. Many argued that competitive races would ultimately be decided by other issues.

“From a grassroots perspective, there’s a lot of joy,” said Scott Jennings, a Republican who is a former campaign aide to Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell. “That’s what we’re fighting for. And at the same time, this election is going to be decided on a few issues: Joe Biden’s approval rating, inflation, the economy, crime, quality of life.

For years, the prospect of overturning Roe v. Wade was an abstract concept for many Americans – a painful but distant worry for some and a long-term goal rather than an imminent possibility for others. The Supreme Court’s opinion eliminating the constitutional right to abortion ended that era of disbelief, opening a new chapter of real-world consequences, in which races for governor, state legislature and prosecutor general, and even state courts could determine whether millions of Americans have access to the process.

“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” Biden said Friday. “Individual freedoms are on the ballot.”

Both sides agree that the high stakes will, to some extent, galvanize their respective bases. But the crucial question remains whether swing voters — especially independent women in diverse suburbs, who are currently focused on economic uncertainty — will turn their attention to the fight for abortion access.

“There are a lot of independent women, I think there are a lot of women who didn’t run for office who are going to get involved,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said in an interview earlier this week. , after hosting a moving panel discussion on abortion rights at a Grand Rapids beer hall. “But I’m not going to assume that. We’re going to have to make sure that we do the work of education, persuasion and activation.

Already this year, Democratic campaigns and outside support groups have spent nearly $18 million on advertising on abortion issues, while Republicans and affiliated outside groups have spent nearly $21 million, according to the media monitoring company AdImpact. Both numbers can swell.

Party activists and strategists, who have been preparing for months to mobilize around this issue, are particularly focused on the gubernatorial races of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, three states currently led by Democratic governors, and places where this fall’s results could directly impact the future of abortion rights after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization returned control of abortion protection to the states.

Democrats also plan to use the issue to play offense in other governors’ races, while arguing that Senate and House candidates across the country have also taken positions on abortion that are well outside the mainstream.

A first test of energy around this issue will take place in August, when Kansans vote on whether to remove the right to abortion from the state constitution.

In a fundraising email on Friday, Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, a Democrat, said “I may be the only Kansas leader standing in the way” of new abortion restrictions. His likely opponent, state attorney general Derek Schmidt, said that he would support the ballot initiative.

Democrats had prepared to try to direct the expected outpouring of shock and anger in the campaign action once the notice is delivered, with party committees and state parties conferring on national messaging plans and mobilization, as well as the launch of a website Friday to lead the organizing efforts.

Candidates and organizations used focus groups and surveys to assess the issue; there are sprawling fundraising efforts; and abortion rights groups Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Emily’s List announced plans to spend $150 million on the midterm elections. American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, says it has used social media influencers to communicate about abortion rights and Republican records on the issue to Americans who may only be so laid-back policies.

“We will see, state by state by state, the pre-existing bans go into effect, state legislatures will rush to pass abortion bans,” said Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood who is now president of American Bridge. “It’s a different conversation now because it’s become real.”

For all the mobilization, many party strategists do not foresee that even Friday’s seismic decision will fundamentally shift voters’ focus on cost-of-living concerns. But some see it as a reinforcement of their main argument against the Republicans: that the party is in control, that it is totally out of step with public opinion and that it focuses above all on cultural battles. Democrats and Senate strategists are particularly focused on spotlighting Republican candidates who support a near-total abortion ban.

“Economic issues are always going to trump abortion for many voters,” said Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic strategist. “But it’s very, very important for Democrats — to win over those swing voters — to make this a choice, not a referendum.”

Polling Shows Americans Strongly Oppose Complete Overturning of Roe v. Wade – In a Washington Post-ABC poll taken in late April, 54% of Americans thought the Roe ruling should be upheld, while 28% thought it should be overturned. But opinions on abortion vary depending on a state’s political leaning.

That’s one reason Republican messaging on the issue has been less unified. On Friday, as some candidates, lawmakers and the Republican National Committee rushed to celebrate the decision, others sought to quickly focus on pocket issues.

Adam Laxalt, a Republican Senate candidate from Nevada – a state that has always supported abortion rights – on Friday applauded the “historic victory for the sanctity of life”. but stressed that access to abortion was already “established law” in Nevada.

“It won’t turn voters away from unaffordable prices, rising crime or the border crisis,” he said.

When asked to comment, Jesse Hunt, spokesperson for the Republican Governors Association, responded in a statement that “the confident voters who will determine the outcome of competitive races are deeply concerned about the damage to their safety. finance” by the Democrats.

Even Mr. Trump, the former president who put the Tories on trial, privately told people he thought the court’s ruling would be “bad for Republicans.” In a public statement on Friday, Trump called the decision “the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation.”

Opponents of abortion rights are trying to capitalize on the enthusiasm of conservatives.

Anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America launched a grassroots program last year, with plans to engage eight million voters in critical battleground states. The group focuses on “the people who are at stake, who could go either way depending on that particular issue,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the organization.

“It’s not just a theoretical vote on someone saying they’re pro-life,” she said. “Now is an opportunity to do something about it.”

Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, an organization that opposes abortion rights, said the group is planning a summit that will focus on the role of state activism in a post-abortion nation. Roe.

Some state officials “basically said, ‘We don’t really have the ability to change the law because of the Supreme Court decision,'” she said.

“Now,” she continued, “that changes everything.”

This new focus on state laws has already intensified debate in state houses and gubernatorial races in politically divided states. In Pennsylvania, the next governor and a Republican-led state house will likely determine access.

“Roe v. Wade is rightly relegated to the ash heap of history,” said Doug Mastriano, the far-right Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania. State Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro wrote on Twitter Friday that “without Roe, the only thing stopping them is our next governor’s veto.”

In Michigan and Wisconsin, old laws call for near-total abortion bans, and Democratic governors seeking reelection have vowed to fight to protect access.

In Michigan, abortion rights supporters are pushing for a constitutional amendment protecting the right to abortion. Ms Whitmer has also filed a lawsuit asking “the Michigan Supreme Court to decide immediately” whether the state Constitution protects the right to abortion.

At her roundtable this week, Ms Whitmer spoke to women to find out if they thought voters had already grasped the significance of what Roe v’s overturning would mean. Wade.

“So many people,” one attendee told her, “didn’t know it was this bad.”



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