“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” Joe Biden told American voters following the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the right to abortion.
The US president was only echoing a chorus of Democrats urging voters to elect pro-abortion-rights lawmakers in November’s midterm elections in a bid to wrest greater control from Congress and can – be to allow the inclusion of the right to abortion in the legislation.
But it’s also a tactic to try to inject Democratic voters with a sense of urgency and activism as we approach the midterms, because currently the political establishment expects Biden and the Democrats suffer a defeat against a resurgent Republican party.
Until Roe fell — triggering a slew of Republican-led states to immediately ban abortion — Biden and his party appeared moribund and in decline in many polls. Shaken by immense problems getting through a national agenda and hit by runaway inflation, Biden’s popularity has plummeted.
But will Roe’s downfall help the Democrats reverse what looks like their current path to defeat? Or could the decision also help motivate the Republican base, as the Supreme Court ruling revealed the benefits for them to wield power?
Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic strategist, said it was too early to tell how much the court’s landmark decision to defer the abortion issue to each U.S. state would help shape voters’ priorities in November.
“In states where Democrats generally do well, this will motivate turnout. In states where they are not doing well, that will also motivate turnout — but not for Democrats,” he says. “The problem is the purple states, like Michigan, Georgia and Nevada, where you have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.”
Four months out in November, voters are reporting their priorities are rising crime and inflation which has seen the cost of basic living soar, especially when it comes to gas prices.
“If the question is whether abortion will help swing the election, the answer is probably no, although it might help in states where there is a reasonable balance between Democrats and Republicans,” Sheinkopf said.
“The presumption is that more women will come forward – but it depends on what is happening in those states at the time. People will make decisions based on what is most personal to them,” he adds. “Six or seven dollars a gallon of gas, the feeling that things are out of control as Democrats rule the country, an increase in homicides nationwide, may be better motivators for a majority of voters that Roe v Wade.”
Sonia Ossorio, president of Now [National Organization for Women] New York said, “I don’t see how this can’t energize voters. Women are fed up. Formula shortages, childcare shortages, gas prices, job losses in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic, and now our reproductive freedom being undermined by the Supreme Court.
“The response we’re getting is unprecedented in my two decades in the women’s rights movement.”
The court ruling establishes political battlegrounds for abortion in all 50 states. Already, many conservative-leaning legislatures are banning or about to ban many or most abortions. Nearly 400 abortion laws have been passed in US states since 2009, 85% of which are designed to restrict, regulate or oppose access, according to a Bloomberg News analysis.
Kelsy Kretschmer, professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and co-author of a study examining women’s voting habits, says it’s unclear the decision will help Democrats in any measurable way.
“A significant proportion of white women are conservative and form the backbone of the pro-life movement and that’s often the thing they care about the most. For Democrats, if you lose half the white women, you don’t don’t have a winning majority of women,” she said.
There are also divisions over abortion rights, even among Democratic-aligned voters, where conservative Democrats may oppose federal funding for abortion.
At the same time, Kretschmer says, abortion rights have always been part of the Democratic platform. “It’s a core tenet of the Democratic Party and most understand that a complete ban on abortion is a no-start.”
But predicting how Friday’s decision will affect November’s vote is beyond past experience. When Roe v Wade was decided in 1973, abortion no longer played the public role in plays.
“The research is abundantly clear that people don’t make voting decisions about abortion rights. People tend to have strong opinions one way or the other, but that doesn’t tend to affect their choice of vote,” Kretschmer says.
But she points out that was before that moment when Roe vs. Wade could be just one of the first women’s rights dominoes to fall or could pave the way for the repeal of birth control and birth control rights. marriage equality. “The hope is among Democrats and the women’s movement in general, this time will be different and enough to shake people out of complacency about this,” she said.
She added: ‘We have never really experienced a moment like this, when something so woven into basic political and civic life was ripped out in one fell swoop. This time for abortion is now and we have never seen it before. So the hope is just that – that this is a breakthrough moment.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, certainly sees it that way. Voting for Democrats in November, she said, is the only way to try to reverse Roe’s downfall — or prevent even worse things from happening.
“Be aware of this: Republicans are plotting a national abortion ban. They cannot be allowed to have a majority in Congress to do this,” Pelosi said. “A woman’s right to choose, the freedom to procreate, is on the ballot in November.”