Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The only way for Democrats to ride the abortion tiger to victory in November

By Damon Linker, The Week

In the days since the leaked draft of a majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade (1973) was published by Politico, Democrats have convinced themselves that this is a huge political gift for the party and an equally massive liability for Republicans — because the country is overwhelmingly pro-choice and doesn’t want to see the landmark decision reversed.

This is a mistake. While it’s possible to imagine scenarios in which the Democrats took advantage of widespread anger against the high court’s actions to give them an edge in the upcoming midterm elections, the party isn’t following that path. On the contrary, Democratic officeholders and candidates are staking out positions just as far out of the mainstream as Republicans seeking to ban abortion outright at the state level. The result is as likely to hurt the Dems as to help them in November.

In making their case for placing abortion at the center of their messaging over the next six months, Democrats point to multiple polls showing broad-based opposition to overturning Roe and widespread support for the pro-choice position. There are indeed polls that support those views. But how many of the people expressing support for Roe understand that overturning it will lead not to an automatic nationwide ban on the procedure but rather to the issue being returned to state legislatures? I suspect the number of Americans who grasp this crucial fact is quite low — which means hostility to the pending decision could well dissipate once it comes down and voters in solidly blue states realize that nothing has changed.


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