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Sunday marks six months until November’s midterm elections, when Democrats will defend their wafer-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate.
And over the past week, the Democratic politicians who have run this year’s election en masse have been shining a light on their efforts to defend the legality of abortion.
Their push comes on the heels of news that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is likely to overturn the nearly half-century landmark Roe v. Wade, who shook up the political world. “GOP Extremists Want to Ban Abortion No Exceptions,” shouted the headline of an email from the Democratic National Committee on Thursday.
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Democrats face historic headwinds and a deadly political climate fueled by soaring inflation, rising crime and a high-profile southern border crisis, epitomized by falling approval ratings of President Biden. Party strategists see a silver lining in the seismic prospect of the loss of legalized abortion if Roe is overthrown and the issue returns to state legislatures.
It may offer Democrats a chance to shift the campaign conversation, energize the left-wing base and win back key suburban voters who helped Democrats win back the House in 2018 but appeared to cross lines. of the party in select 2020 congressional contests and again in GOP victories in the Virginia and New Jersey elections last November.
But the jury is still out on whether overturning the abortion ruling would nullify the midterm elections. Kyle Kondik, Sabato’s nonpartisan crystal ball editor at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, pointed out that “I think it’s too early to say” whether the likelihood of the high court overruling Roe v. Wade would be a campaign game changer.
“In theory, Roe’s departure could give Democrats a much-needed boost in the arm. But we can’t automatically assume it would change the basic contours of the midterm elections,” he stressed.
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Although there is general agreement among Democrats that the overturning of Roe v. Wade could help Democrats soften some of the blows they are meant to take in the battle for control of Congress, few believe that will be enough to turn the tide against what is expected to be a brutal midterm election for the majority party.
A veteran Democratic strategist, who asked not to be named to speak more freely, predicted the abortion issue would “help around the edges”, but said a major drop in gas prices and migrants crossing the US-Mexico border “would be more beneficial”. “
But that doesn’t mean Democrats aren’t already trying to use the issue.
“We can’t afford to elect another anti-choice senator. I’m the only candidate who will stand up for reproductive rights and work to codify Roe v. Wade into law,” tweeted Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan, who makes facing a tough re-election potential in November in a key swing state.
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Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, another first-term Democrat from another crucial general election battleground state who has also been targeted by Republicans, took aim at former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination in the Silver State.
After Laxalt pointed out that the overturning of Roe v. Wade “would be a historic victory for the sanctity of life and the principles of democratic self-determination,” the senator fired back, accusing Laxalt of wanting “Roe v. Wade overturned so it can take away a woman’s right to choose in Nevada and across the country.He opposes the vast majority of Nevadans who are pro-choice.
Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who is running to challenge GOP Senator Ron Johnson, traveled to the Supreme Court to shoot what appears to be the Senate’s first campaign ad since the announcement of the new.
“Looks like Ron Johnson is going to get exactly what he wants,” Godlewski said in the new spot. “Undo the Roe v. Wade turn. Reinstate Wisconsin’s cruel abortion ban and put doctors in jail.”
Cortez Masto and Hassan’s comments and Godlewski’s TV ad are three high-profile examples of a growing chorus of Democratic attacks on Republican rivals on the issue.
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The Democrats’ arguments are backed by a slew of national polls that indicate a solid majority of Americans don’t want to see Roe v. Wade knocked down. According to a national Fox News poll taken just before reports of the potential demise of the landmark decision, 63% of registered voters — including more than three-quarters of Democrats, nearly two-thirds of independents and more than half of Republicans — voted said they would I would like to see the Supreme Court ruling on abortion upheld.
Over the past week, many Republican politicians have been reluctant to discuss the prospect of conservative justices dropping the sweeping abortion ruling and have instead shed light on the seriousness of the unprecedented leak of the initial draft opinion from the High Court. But some on the right point out that putting the issue firmly back in the spotlight would energize the conservative social base of the GOP, where the intensity has historically been very high.
“The abortion debate is energizing for both sides,” Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of Family Leader, a prominent Iowa-based conservative social organization, told Fox News. “Don’t be surprised if this sudden furor sways Republican voters midterm — not just because of the enthusiasm for life, but also to make sure Democrats can’t codify the extremism of the abortion they are crying out for.”
And in some high-profile GOP primaries to come, the issue immediately took center stage.
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Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor and one of the favorites for the GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania, was targeted by his arch rivals during a debate Wednesday over past comments on abortions.
And former Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, who faces a tough challenge as he tries to defeat conservative Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a May 24 primary, stressed Thursday that “I call on Brian Kemp to join me in calling for an immediate special session of the legislature to ban abortion in Georgia following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
And Perdue, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump, said “either you’re going to fight for the sanctity of life or you don’t.”
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Kemp in 2019 enacted a measure that would ban abortions after a doctor could detect a fetal heartbeat. The law, commonly known as the “heartbeat law,” was blocked by a federal appeals court ruling.
The governor said this week that “Under my leadership, Georgia will remain a state that values life at all stages, and as we anticipate the United States Supreme Court’s decision, Georgians should be assured that I will continue to fight for the strongest pro-life law in the countryside.”
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