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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

If you were wondering “What Would Striking Down Roe v. Wade Mean For The Midterms?,” FiveThirtyEight has an excellent panel discussion for that. Some insights from the panelists: “nrakich (Nathaniel Rakich, senior elections analyst): Yeah, this is example No. 48,329 of why state-level politics are important — maybe more important than federal politics.”….”geoffrey.skelley (Geoffrey Skelley, elections analyst): Republicans are also in a better position to push laws that ban abortions — if they haven’t already. Currently, Republicans have full control of the government in 22 states, while Democrats only have “trifectas” in 14 states. The other 13 states have divided governments (including Alaska), but some of those states are pretty Republican and could fall under full GOP control in 2022 or 2023, such as Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.”….”alex (Alex Samuels, politics reporter): Exactly. Scrapping the filibuster will definitely become a pressing topic once again. While Congress does technically have the ability to codify the legal principles outlined in Roe, doing so would require Democrats in the Senate to get rid of the 60-vote threshold needed to pass legislation….as we’ve written time and time again, certain senators have long been opposed to doing that….But even if nuking the filibuster were realistically on the table and Democrats could codify Roe into law, there’s really nothing precluding Republicans from then reversing that if they take back control of the House and Senate later this year, right? As we already know, the midterm environment is likely to favor Republicans this year, too.”….”ameliatd: Well, and there’s always the possibility that the Supreme Court would overrule a federal law that protects abortion rights. Dare I say it, I ultimately think this isn’t going to be something that Democratic politicians feel a lot of pressure around until abortion rights are actually gone in half the country and people start to see what that means.”….”nrakich: I don’t know. The only scenario where I could see Democrats passing a pro-abortion bill is if, in 2023, they somehow hold the House and pick up seats in the Senate. If they win, say, 52 seats, the votes could be there to abolish the filibuster. But Democrats holding the House and picking up seats in the Senate is a pretty unlikely scenario….On the flip side, I think the soonest Republicans could enact a national abortion ban would be 2025: They’d have to flip not only the Senate and House but also the presidency.”

The panel discussion coninues: “geoffrey.skelley:…If the GOP ends up with a large Senate majority after the 2024 election, they might be more inclined to get rid of the filibuster than a narrow Democratic majority currently is — especially if Democrats are blocking some major Republican goals in 2025.”….sarah: Americans have a complicated relationship to abortion in that they support a number of different restrictions, some of which are out of step with Roe. But at the same time, most Americans do not want Roe overturned….This poll from NBC News was conducted earlier this year, but it found that voters, including independents, not only supported Roe but also weren’t in favor of candidates who wanted to overturn Roe….If the court were to overturn Roe this term, then doesn’t this have the potential to shake up the midterms in ways that we can’t really anticipate now?”….ameliatd: There’s a myth that Americans are personally conflicted about abortion. But that’s not really true. The vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances — we’re talking 85-90 percent. So completely banning abortion would be highly unpopular. Public opinion on abortion sometimes looks muddy because people don’t like talking and thinking about abortion, and because they especially don’t like to deal with it as a political issue. But I suspect that when confronted with the reality of a post-Roe country, that could change. Will it happen in time for the midterms, though? I’m not sure.”….sarah: That’s a good point, Amelia. This ABC News/Washington Post pollwas conducted before Alito’s draft opinion was leaked, but I think it’s striking how unaware many people were when it came to the abortion landscape in their state. It found that in the 22 states that have passed abortion restrictions since 2020, only 30 percent of residents were aware of the restrictions. Forty-four percent said they weren’t aware, and 26 percent said they were unsure.”

Also: “alex: I’m torn on the effects this will have on the midterms. On the one hand, some polling suggests that protecting abortion rights is a priority for Democrats in particular….According to a December poll from the Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 13 percent of Democrats named abortion or reproductive rights as one of the issues they wanted Congress to address in 2022. And that’s a marked increase from two other times the poll asked the question: Less than 1 percent of Democrats called it a priority in 2021, and only 3 percent did in 2020….That said, it’s not immediately clear to me whether gutting Roe would hurt Republicans in the midterms. Gallup found in March, for instance, that Americans do not consider abortion to be a critical problem facing the nation.”….”geoffrey.skelley: What’s tricky about this is that the people who are most in favor of abortion rights are college-educated, and while those people have backed Democrats in recent elections, they are far from a majority of the electorate. For abortion to make a big difference in the election, you’d need to see other groups of voters shifting back toward Democrats on this issue. And I’m skeptical abortion is going to supplant the economy and inflationas the top issues Americans are worried about — not when Biden’s approval rating will likely still be in the low 40s and there’s little sign that inflation is going to fully stabilize before the election.”….nrakich: Yeah, Geoffrey, I’m not sure it will change many people’s actual votes; if you support abortion rights, you’re probably already voting Democratic. It could, however, increase Democratic enthusiasm to turn out in a year when Republicans might otherwise have an enthusiasm advantage….According to a CNN/SSRS poll from January, 35 percent of Americans said they would be “angry” if the Supreme Court overturned Roe. And that group was disproportionately Democratic: 51 percent of Democrats said they would be angry (significantly more than the 29 percent of Republicans who said they would be “happy”). And, to put it simply, angry people vote.”….”alex: This is somewhat speculative, but it is possible that overturning Roe could energize younger progressives and women. I know both groups already lean Democratic, but maybe Democrats could use this to motivate groups that have soured somewhat on Biden since he became president?”

Democrats should be forgiven if they are a bit unnerved by Tuesday’s primary results in Ohio. Not on the Democratic side – Tim Ryan’s convincing win means that Dems will have a strong contender for a pick-up of retiring Republican Rob Portman’s seat in the U.S. Senate. But on the Republican side, J.D. Vance’s victory demonstrated the power of Trump’s endorsement and an infusion of big donor cash. As Jacob Rubashkin notes at FiveThirtyEight, “Vance didn’t lead in a single poll until Trump endorsed him. He was struggling to raise money or defend against attacks about his past anti-Trump comments, and the super PAC giving him air cover was running low on funds and sounding the alarm in a major way….One guy who has to be pretty happy tonight is Peter Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur who bankrolled Vance’s run in Ohio to the tune of $13.5 million….Thiel is making some big plays in politics lately, and he has another candidate, Blake Masters, in the Arizona Senate primary. Trump hasn’t endorsed in that primary yet, but he recently made a virtual appearance at a Masters event. Tonight’s big win by Vance could work in Masters’s favor, but that primary isn’t until August.” However, Rubashkin adds, “The Tim Ryan campaign was ready for J.D. Vance’s win tonight. They just dropped a pre-produced video in which Ryan, seated in a diner, goes after Vance as a “celebrity, CNN analyst, and a big hit at Washington cocktail parties.” I wonder how many other potential opponents they cut ads about.” However, Trump’s influence could be a bit overstated, as Geoffrey Skelley notes: “It’s not that his endorsement can move mountains, but in a crowded race with voters uncertain of where to go, Trump’s backing can make a significant difference….It was a crowded race with a handful of tenable Republican candidates, and the former president picked one, and that was enough to get him over the line.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Abortion has the potential to also further divide the Democratic coalition. Messaging needs to keep the coalition together instead of provoking more bleeding towards the GOP.

  2. Maria Ferrera on

    I’m kind of shocked that folks from Five Thirty Eight aren’t looking at the data. They say that abortion is only an issue for those college educated who represent a small percent of the electorate??? 36% of the population has a college degree. And folks with college degrees have the highest voting participation – over 75%. You do the math and you can see that people with college degrees represent as much as 45% of voters. This is not a small voting group!


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