The passion for abortion rights has fueled a stunning shift in the mid-term fortunes of Democrats.
Why is it important: Slowing inflation and lower gasoline prices are also important factors. But officials from both parties tell us that abortion has enlivened Democratic engagement like no other issue since President Trump left office.
- The result: a reset for a party that was defensive and disillusioned before the Supreme Court’s decision in June that overturned Roe v. Wade.
- With 75 days to go until Election Day, Democrats now have a good chance of retaining the Senate.
- And keeping the GOP to a narrow House victory is now a realistic possibility.
What is happening: Abortion helped Democrats triumph in the primary season in both fundraising and voter turnout, approaching and in some cases surpassing 2018 historic levels.
- Now officials from both parties are seeing signs that this could blunt a red wave of GOP midterm gains that once seemed inevitable.
Driving the news: Tuesday night’s primaries in New York and Florida offer the latest evidence.
- Democrat Pat Ryan’s surprise victory in a House special election (NY-19) was prompted by a message centered on abortion. “The choice was on the ballot. Freedom was on the ballot, and tonight choice and freedom won,” Ryan said. in a post-election victory statement.
- at Ryan’s advertisements focused on the protection of aabortion rights, while his GOP opponent, Marc Molinaro, hammered Democrats on the economy and crime. Ryan won by two runs in a Biden quarter carried by the same margin.
- In Florida’s gubernatorial primary, more Democrats showed up to vote (1,513,180) than in 2018 (1,509,960). Given that 2018 was a historically good year for Democrats and 2022 has recently looked like a Democratic wipeout, the similar level of Democratic engagement is surprising.
The big picture: An Axios analysis found that turnout in Democratic primaries for gubernatorial races increased between 2018 and 2022 in five of the eight states holding contested primaries after June, following the Supreme Court’s ruling Dobbs decision.
But, but, but… Republicans have also proven at historically high levels throughout the primary calendar.
- In battleground states like Arizona and Florida, where Democratic primary turnout rose from 2018, Republican turnout in those states was even higher — due to issues like the economy, immigration and the competitive primaries where former President Trump was involved.
- Democrats may not be able to control this, but if they can give their own base a reason to run, they can at least stay competitive.
A recent survey confirms the growing importance of the right to abortion in the medium-term dynamics.
- A Pew Research Center poll conducted August 1-14 56% of voters said the issue of abortion would be “very important” in their midterm decision. That’s a 13 percentage point increase from Pew’s March survey. The increased interest in abortion has been driven entirely by Democratic voters.
- A new NBC News poll found Democrats closing in on Republican enthusiasm for the midterm vote, driven by supporters citing abortion as a major issue. Only 38% said they supported the Dobbs decision, while 58% opposed it.
- Abortion ranked among top issues last week Fox News polls in Arizona and Wisconsinapproaching economic concerns.
- In Arizona, 20% of respondents said inflation was the most important issue in the Senate race, with 16% citing abortion rights. In Wisconsin, 28% cited economic concerns as the top issue, while abortion comes second with 17%.
The bottom line: The economy is still the dominant issue for voters. But lower gas prices over the past week are helping lift the mood of persuasive voters — and signaling grassroots voters that they can afford to be driven by issues like reproductive rights instead. only by pure wallet needs.
- “Lower gas prices are such a powerful mood lift,” a Democratic strategist said after witnessing a focus group in a Midwest battleground race. “People complained about the prices and general economic issues, but there was some optimism that things were looking up.”
- “It allows people to focus on the dynamics of social issues and the divisions they don’t like.”