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‘A marginal bump’: Strategists divided on whether Democrats will make big gains over abortion in 2024


Daily Caller News Foundation

  • Democrats are seeking to register several abortion-related ballot initiatives in 2024, which may have the effect of boosting turnout for their candidates.
  • Activists are campaigning to get abortion-related initiatives on the ballot in several states, including Arizona and Nevada.
  • “Victory will come to the candidate who can successfully argue it’s their opponent who is the real extremist,” Peter Roff told the DCNF.

Democratic activists in several states are seeking to register abortion-related ballot initiatives in 2024, but experts are divided over whether this will increase turnout for their candidates.

Democrats have made opposition to restrictions on abortion a primary argument for their campaigns since 2022, most recently in Virginia, where Democrats won a majority in both houses of the General Assembly. Political experts who spoke with the DCNF suggested that efforts to organize ballot initiatives on abortion in order to compel voters to turn out may have only limited success.

“Democrats will almost certainly overplay their hand in blue and purple states,” William Francis Buckley O’Reilly, a political consultant who has worked primarily with Republicans, told the DCNF, regarding abortion. “At some point, voters tire of the hyperbole and move on to other issues. I’d say the issue gives Democrats a marginal bump, but inflation, crime, and the President’s advanced age will more than make up for it at the ballot box.”

New York will vote in 2024 on whether or not to approve an amendment to the state constitution that would make sexual orientation, disabilities and the decision to abort a pregnancy protected against discrimination, which would prevent the state from banning abortion. Several Republican candidates who won narrow elections to the House of Representatives in 2022 will be seeking re-election in 2024, with voters making choices of their representative and whether to approve the amendment on the same ballot.

“Victory will come to the candidate who can successfully argue it’s their opponent who is the real extremist,” Peter Roff, a political strategist and columnist for Newsweek, told the DCNF. “The problem for Republicans running as defenders of the unborn now is that most people who consider themselves even marginally pro-choice don’t believe that’s where it will stop. That’s going to be a drag on GOP candidates running in New York and, for that matter, most of the country unless they can persuade enough voters they will only go so far and no farther.”

Abortion-related initiatives in 2024 are reportedly being organized in Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Arizona.

A coalition of six left-wing organizations launched a campaign to gather signatures in order to register the “Arizona Abortion Access Act” on the ballot, which would create a right to an abortion in the state constitution and preclude efforts to restrict the measure. The effort must obtain 383,923 signatures before July 2024 in order to appear on the ballot that November.

“It is highly likely that [the Arizona initiative] will qualify for the ballot – it is well funded and state law is in flux with the conflict between the territorial ban and the recently passed 15-week restriction,” Paul Bentz, the Senior Vice President of AZ High Ground, a public affairs firm that works with Democratic candidates, told the DCNF.  “We anticipate that this issue may activate and energize younger voters and unaffiliated voters who may not otherwise be motivated to participate in a likely rematch between Biden and Trump.  These lower efficacy voters tend to benefit the Democratic candidates particularly if they are facing MAGA opponents.”

Democrats are employing abortion as an electoral argument at a time when some Republicans, such as Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, have argued that the party needs to find a “middle ground” on the subject. Abortion remains broadly popular with Americans, with over 80% believing it should be legal in at least some circumstances, and restrictive measures in several Republican-run states after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization have been widely criticized, including in Ohio, where voters enacted an amendment to the state constitution codifying abortion as a right.

“The Dobbs decision was a virtual Pandora’s box for the GOP because it forced a change in strategy,” Roff wrote. “With Roe gone, the argument is now where the boundaries will be and what, if any, restrictions will be allowed. The pro-life organizations and their allies weren’t ready for that. To paraphrase Richard Nixon, ‘We’re all pro-choice now.’”

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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