Editor’s Notice: Patrick T. Brown is a fellow on the Ethics and Public Coverage Heart, a conservative assume tank and advocacy group primarily based in Washington, DC. He’s additionally a former senior coverage adviser to Congress’ Joint Financial Committee. Observe him on Twitter. The views expressed on this piece are his personal. View more opinion on CNN.
Going through adversarial political headwinds, Democrats’ greatest hope for sustaining management of Congress has been the US Supreme Courtroom’s appropriate however unpopular determination to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the power to limit abortion to the states.
Democratic incumbents in powerful Senate races, like Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona, Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, have sought to color their Republican challengers as extremists on the problem of reproductive rights. Gubernatorial elections in Michigan, Minnesota, Georgia and Pennsylvania have likewise seen millions of dollars in adverts portray Republicans as in search of to ban abortion with out exception.
To date, most Republican candidates have sought to dodge the topic or change the subject. However in these remaining weeks of the marketing campaign, it’s not too late for a extra deliberate counterattack to win over average voters.
We all know that abortion is a large motivating drive for voters who establish as Democrats. However for independents, the dynamic is extra complicated. A current KFF Health Tracking Poll discovered one-third of Democratic girls wish to hear candidates talk about abortion, however solely 16% of unbiased girls share this sentiment.
In reality, polling by FiveThirtyEight suggests abortion has begun to fade from some voters’ minds, as inflation stays stubbornly excessive, crime charges keep elevated and fears of an financial downturn proceed to develop. Within the rapid wake of the Dobbs ruling in June, 29% of girls aged 18 to 44 listed abortion as certainly one of their high three political priorities. In a ballot performed in September, that quantity had dropped to 12%.
This means the likelihood for a renewed opening for Republicans to compete for middle-of-the-road voters who’re conflicted about abortion however just like the GOP’s financial agenda. There isn’t any query that Republicans’ best political legal responsibility continues to be their lack of preparation for a post-Roe world. And if they’re all for swaying gettable voters, they need to show their seriousness about being authentically pro-life, not simply anti-abortion.
Republicans operating for workplace have largely tried to downplay the problem. Blake Masters, the GOP Senate nominee in Arizona, clumsily scrubbed his website of stridently pro-life language, whereas Adam Laxalt, operating for Senate in Nevada, has run adverts stressing his lack of interest in altering the established order.
However proactively in search of to neutralize progressive assaults on abortion may very well be way more efficient than attempting to cover the ball. When the topic comes up, Republicans ought to remind voters not simply of Democrats’ extreme stance on abortion, however stress the significance of addressing the financial and cultural elements that push girls to contemplate it within the first place.
Think about a voter who feels conflicted concerning the legality of abortion – personally opposed, perhaps, however is aware of somebody of their life who obtained an abortion due to financial pressures. Pledging to champion expanded funding for security internet packages – just like the particular supplemental diet help program for women, infants and children (WIC) and packages that goal to reduce maternal mortality – may assist them really feel extra comfy voting for a candidate who would assist higher abortion restrictions.
Some elected Republicans have already pivoted in that route. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, locked in a closer-than-expected reelection marketing campaign, responded to the Dobbs ruling by unveiling a package of safety-net proposals that might enhance assets obtainable to pregnant moms and catalyze on-the-ground packages that give mothers and their infants the assist they want.
Purple states like Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina have opted right into a federal program that gives postpartum Medicaid coverage for a yr after delivery, up from the earlier commonplace of 60 days; it ought to be a no brainer for each state that advances restrictions on abortion to observe go well with. Texas and Indiana additionally handed new spending aimed toward supporting low-income mothers concurrently passing restrictions on abortion, demonstrating their dedication to being pro-life each throughout and after being pregnant.
There’s clearly a robust ethical case to be made that Republicans ought to make life easier for women going through an sudden being pregnant. However there’s a political case as properly. An agenda that places parents first would acknowledge the significance of a brand new emphasis on pre- and post-partum assist in a post-Roe America. And lots of average voters are turned off by the intense place on both aspect of the abortion debate. They may very well be gained over with wise exemptions round rape and incest, coupled with significant assist for brand spanking new mothers. Inroads amongst these voters may very well be sufficient to tip the scales in a detailed race.
This flies within the face of conventional GOP politics. Abortion is “not a difficulty that you just wish to be speaking about,” longtime Republican strategist Doug Heye told CNN. However ducking the problem lets Democrats’ strongest assault this cycle go unanswered – and calls into query the GOP’s sincerity in being authentically pro-life.
Within the unsettled political surroundings of our post-Roe midterms, Republicans have little to lose sketching out a proactive imaginative and prescient fairly than simply hunkering down on protection. An specific stance in favor of supporting girls by means of stronger security internet spending and bettering maternal well being would soften the hard-edged picture the left would love to color and will affect key races that would determine the steadiness of energy in Washington, DC, and state capitals.