In the wake of the news that the Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democratic politicians and strategists are seeking to turn abortion into the new dominant issue of November’s midterm elections.
Axios reports that strategists hope to target swing states with contested seats for governor and the U.S. Senate, particularly states where abortion could be outlawed if Roe is ultimately overturned. One anonymous strategist pointed to the finality of the leaked draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, which determines that both Roe, originally decided in 1973, as well as the follow-up case Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, must be completely overturned so that the question of abortion can be decided on a state-by-state basis.
“If this was more nuanced, it might be harder to operationalize, but they came in with a sledgehammer,” said the strategist. “That makes it a lot easier. Cycle after cycle, it hasn’t broken through because people think Roe wouldn’t be overturned. This is something that has a real opportunity to break through.”
However, the more niche issue of abortion might only serve to generate greater enthusiasm and participation among voters who were already likely to vote for Democrats this fall, including young, college-educated women. The same issue most likely will not sway the turnout or final decisions of working-class voters, men, and Hispanics, all of which are key voting blocs that the Democrats have been struggling with in recent years.
We have a real deficit in terms of energy on our side,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. “Our base is less energized than their base, and now young voters and independent women are going to be energized.”
Prior to the leaking of the draft opinion, the dominant issues of the midterm campaign appeared to be mostly economic, primarily regarding inflation and the abysmal economic reports from last quarter, which saw the American GDP fall by 1.4 percent. But with the November elections still six months away, it is possible that this issue will also largely fade from public memory by the time Election Day arrives.
On Monday night, in an unprecedented breach of security and confidentiality at the Supreme Court, the draft opinion was leaked to Politico by someone inside the high court. The opinion, which appears to reflect the opinion of five justices, would see Roe completely overturned after 49 years. Although the Supreme Court confirmed the draft’s authenticity, the statement claimed that no decision is final until the official announcement in June.
The draft seems to suggest that Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett will vote to overturn Roe, while Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor will dissent; the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts remains unknown. Oral arguments in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, were heard in December, and the vote among the justices was reportedly held in February.