Saxman: Supreme Court Leak Raises Abortion Issue
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*NOTE – I realize that abortion is a profoundly difficult and divisive moral question; however, this column is about the politics surrounding the issue post Supreme Court leak.
Following The Leak, I dove into polling on abortion in order to better understand The Impact of The Draft should it become The Law resulting in The Question (who decides) being tossed back to The States.
Public polling will start to roll out on this next week and there will likely be an improvement (Dobbs bounce?) in Likely Voter responses from younger more progressive voters as well as college educated suburban women who heretofore were less than enthused about the 2022 midterms. #Inflation
Whether or not that can be captured into actual voters showing up will be the challenge/opportunity for Democrats. What will NOT be a challenge is raising money.
Meanwhile, Republicans could face a more difficult challenge in getting single issue pro-life voters to show up post Dobbs as most are currently in the Likely Voter category. (Again – SCOTUS still has to issue its ruling) Will they stay that way?
As far as predicting The Impact on The MidTerms? It’s too early to tell, but one has to imagine the net positive politically, in the short term, is for the Democrats.
So let’s look at where we are on abortion.
According to Gallup, it’s very close on how we identify on the issue and how it has changed. A Pro-choice lead of +23 in 1996 during the Clintonian “safe, legal, and rare” period to then TIED in Early Bush II when “rape, incest, and health of the mother” exceptions were a theme.
That’s a big change that has held fairly steady for twenty years. Again, this is how people IDENTIFY themselves on the issue vs. the specifics of the issue and certainly not whether the issue is a matter for The States to decide. #Alito?
In actuality, the vast majority (80%) of Americans think that abortion should be legal in some form. Only 19% think that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
Or as one of the leaders in the pro-life movement, Shaun Kenney, said in a recent Facebook:
More to the point here is how polling breaks down when people are given specific trimesters. Note the drop-offs in support and relative consistency over the last 25 years or so.
To Kenney’s point, the Pro-Life movement has a broad swath who identify as Pro-Life but are actually, “yes, but…” or Pro-Regulation.
Very few people are Full Gestation Pro-Choice and this is an electoral danger for those who support legislation that legalizes third trimester abortions IF that is a deciding factor. This is where polling cross tabs matter. What voting behavior actually changes?
Before The Leak? Woman’s rights (presumably covering abortion) came in at #23 of the top issues according to the recent Harvard Harris poll.
But guess who shows up the most in primaries? Full on Pro-Life or Pro-Choice voters. The intensity of their political behavior is what matters to both parties.
The States are very different when it comes to The Question and they regulate abortion very differently. Here is a recent graphic from Axios on rates of abortion. Note the downward trajectory of all states.
Abortion rates are moving downward and now over half of abortions (54%) are done with pills versus surgery. It’s going to be very hard to actually end abortions since the medicine is now generic, can be prescribed for other reasons, and delivered by mail.
Some of the most restrictive states on abortion are only regulating that method of abortion.
The Dobbs case is based on a law passed in Mississippi that restricts abortion to being legal during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. (Pro-Regulation/Legal)
Here is the graphic which you might start to hear more about from Republicans if The Leak becomes The Law – almost all European countries are more restrictive on abortion than Mississippi is trying to be.
Repealing Roe would merely return abortion policy to the states and democratic debate. That’s all.
Would that it were so easy.
This is probably a good time to recommend – again – Jonathan Haidt’s article from The Atlantic:
A democracy cannot survive if its public squares are places where people fear speaking up and where no stable consensus can be reached. Social media’s empowerment of the far left, the far right, domestic trolls, and foreign agents is creating a system that looks less like democracy and more like rule by the most aggressive.
<Enter The Leak>
If The Leak of The Draft becomes The Law and The States take on The Question, The Market might have, once again, been ahead of The Battle.
Meanwhile, President Biden has seen some marginal improvement in his Job Approval numbers having pulled up over 42, but the double digit gap is still the problem.
Recent Podcasts with members of both parties and Allman Brothers “Melissa.”