If it wasn’t clear before it certainly is after Tuesday’s results: where ever possible 2024 Democratic candidates should run on choice.
Since the Dobbs decision whenever choice has been on the ballot, either directly or indirectly, it has won. Last week Tuesday was no exception. In Ohio, (which is much more of a red than swing state of late), the voters voted to enshrine the right to an abortion into the state’s constitution. That is despite Republican shenanigans which included an earlier attempt to change the rules and a subsequent rewording of the measure on the ballot. It really wasn’t that close; it was about a 14-point margin. That would be pretty decisive even in a blue state.
In Kentucky Democrat Andy Beshear was reelected to the governorship by 6 points in a decidedly Republican state. The contest largely revolved around the issue of choice with his Republican opponent promising to deny it. In Kentucky several counties consolidated polling places which made it more difficult for all to vote but especially the poor.
In Virginia Republican Governor and 2024 presidential white knight wannabe Glenn Youngkin saw his vision of sugar plums disappear when the voters gave the Democrats control of both chambers of the state legislature. That was the end of Youngkin’s anti-choice plans and it was the issue the campaign centered on.
Women, although still grossly underrepresented in politics, are the key to both organizing and winning at the polls. In the wake of Dobbs, they are motivated and involved at higher levels than ever. They are also a bit more homogeneous. I am certain that white women are winnable for the Democrats in 2024.
There is a simple lesson here: other than in the most extremely gerrymandered districts Democrats should make choice the key issue and they will significantly enhance their chances of winning. It is really that simple.
Most Americans have a basic sense of fairness. Zero exemptions from unreasonable (if any) time constraints on abortions don’t seem fair to them. Making obtaining, “abetting” (like being the Uber driver) or performing an abortion a criminal offense that often carries a long prison sentence doesn’t seem fair to them. No exceptions for rape and incest appear unfair even to most voters who would consider themselves to be “pro-life”. Despite their rhetoric to the contrary, most Republicans – and by and large the voters have come to believe this – given the opportunity will enact these kinds of laws. The laws Republicans have enacted and would enact given the chance are extreme and most Americans, left or right leaning, are simply not extreme.
Democrats have won the women’s vote for several cycles now. The only sub-demographic they lose (and not by a wide margin) is white women. Most elections are rather close. Simply flipping a few percent of the female vote is enough to change the outcome of most elections. That is not to mention motivating a few more to show up in the first place and nothing motivates American voters like anger and fear. Remember one of my pet political theories: most voters vote against, not for, candidates or issues.
One proof is the Republican voter suppression gambit of voter ID. This hits women and the poor the hardest. Those are two Democratic leaning demographics. Women change their names more often than men and poor people have less access to the “mechanics” of obtaining ID.
Don’t be fooled by Republican campaign promises of moderation. There is a middle ground/compromise on abortion: it was Roe. Unless they promise to codify it don’t believe them. Roe was the compromise and they spent decades trying to overturn it and finally did thanks to Donald Trump. I guess that tells you all you had to know about the top of the ballot race in 2024.
My summation is redundant but here it is: If you are a candidate make abortion the number one issue and as a voter make it the issue you force any candidate for state or federal office to make a clear commitment on!
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