Politics

House Democrats prepare to try for another Roe election

They turned the reversal of Roe v. Wade into campaign rocket fuel two years ago, denying the GOP its hopes for a “red wave.” Now House Democrats are preparing to try to again sink vulnerable Republicans on abortion.

Internal party polling data backs up their strategy. Democratic lawmakers viewed a recent survey from their campaign arm during a private meeting on Wednesday that pointed to abortion’s status as a “dealbreaker” for key constituencies ahead of November. The poll, described to POLITICO by a person in the room, found 43 percent of women and 31 percent of independents saying they could not vote for a candidate for Congress who disagreed with them on abortion.

The same polling showed 69 percent of respondents in battleground districts believing that GOP control of the House, Senate and White House would lead to significant restrictions on abortion. The result remained largely the same regardless of whether the respondent was in a state with restricted or accessible abortion. (Notably, the polling was conducted before former President Donald Trump said he’d punt the issue to the states.)

It may prove more challenging than Democrats expect to link swing-district Republicans to state-level abortion restrictions. Voters will also face a messaging bombardment about the economy, the border, crime and other issues that typically put Democrats on defense — though Alabama’s recent court ruling restricting in vitro fertilization yielded messaging that took advantage of GOP vulnerabilities.

Broadly speaking, Trump’s new abortion position is prompting many GOP lawmakers to distance themselves from any further congressional action to ban it. Battleground-seat Republicans have lined up to repudiate Arizona’s new abortion ban after a seismic court decision reinstated it.

“Just like Democrats, Republicans have different views on the issue,” said purple-district Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), who has opposed a national abortion ban. “My view is very, very clear and very, very simple. I believe that we need to respect women and the choices that they have to make.”

But Democrats are still preparing to yoke their opponents to the restrictions anyway. If they succeed, they’ll be harmonizing with President Joe Biden’s reelection, which is putting abortion rights front and center.

“Some have tried to rhetorically separate themselves, but when it comes to actual work in terms of the bills they support, the votes they’ve taken, they’re not supporting reproductive freedom across this country,” said DCCC chair Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), who was confident voters would still see abortion as a top issue. “The data hasn’t changed,” she added. “We’ve seen this consistently since the Dobbs decision [ending Roe].”

Lawmakers are anticipating a media barrage to make the case to voters on abortion. The message: If Republicans take back the Senate, keep the House and take the White House, they will pass a national abortion ban. (Trump has said he opposes a national abortion ban).

“It’s very important that we communicate that even in states where the right to abortion exists on the state level, [that] a national abortion ban, which [Republicans are seeking] and will seek, will overturn the right to abortion, even in states like New York and California,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “I think we really need to be very sharp about the stakes of this as something that we have to continue to emphasize.”

One Michigan Democrat pointed to voters approving an amendment to the state’s constitution in 2022 — after the Dobbs decision — guaranteeing the right to abortion and other reproductive health services as evidence of its down-ballot potency.

“This was clearly a question that was front of mind and it made a huge difference in the Michigan election, statewide and district by district, down to the legislative races,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). He acknowledged the difficulty of keeping the issue “in the political consciousness” but added that Republicans were “doing it for us. They cannot get out of their own way and they’re gonna pay a price for it, I believe.”

Not every lawmaker thinks abortion should be a central part of the party’s election year message. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who represents a purple district narrowly won by Biden in 2020, said “I don’t spend a lot of time talking about abortion in my race.” She said she didn’t last cycle, either.

“Quite frankly, I think the voters are aware of the national news. They’re aware enough that you don’t have to spend a whole lot of time talking about it,” she said.

They turned the reversal of Roe v. Wade into campaign rocket fuel two years ago, denying the GOP its hopes for a “red wave.” Now House Democrats are preparing to try to again sink vulnerable Republicans on abortion.
Internal party polling data backs up their strategy. Democratic lawmakers viewed a recent survey from their campaign arm during a private meeting on Wednesday that pointed to abortion’s status as a “dealbreaker” for key constituencies ahead of November. The poll, described to POLITICO by a person in the room, found 43 percent of women and 31 percent of independents saying they could not vote for a candidate for Congress who disagreed with them on abortion.
The same polling showed 69 percent of respondents in battleground districts believing that GOP control of the House, Senate and White House would lead to significant restrictions on abortion. The result remained largely the same regardless of whether the respondent was in a state with restricted or accessible abortion. (Notably, the polling was conducted before former President Donald Trump said he’d punt the issue to the states.)
It may prove more challenging than Democrats expect to link swing-district Republicans to state-level abortion restrictions. Voters will also face a messaging bombardment about the economy, the border, crime and other issues that typically put Democrats on defense — though Alabama’s recent court ruling restricting in vitro fertilization yielded messaging that took advantage of GOP vulnerabilities.
Broadly speaking, Trump’s new abortion position is prompting many GOP lawmakers to distance themselves from any further congressional action to ban it. Battleground-seat Republicans have lined up to repudiate Arizona’s new abortion ban after a seismic court decision reinstated it.
“Just like Democrats, Republicans have different views on the issue,” said purple-district Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), who has opposed a national abortion ban. “My view is very, very clear and very, very simple. I believe that we need to respect women and the choices that they have to make.”
But Democrats are still preparing to yoke their opponents to the restrictions anyway. If they succeed, they’ll be harmonizing with President Joe Biden’s reelection, which is putting abortion rights front and center.
“Some have tried to rhetorically separate themselves, but when it comes to actual work in terms of the bills they support, the votes they’ve taken, they’re not supporting reproductive freedom across this country,” said DCCC chair Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), who was confident voters would still see abortion as a top issue. “The data hasn’t changed,” she added. “We’ve seen this consistently since the Dobbs decision [ending Roe].”
Lawmakers are anticipating a media barrage to make the case to voters on abortion. The message: If Republicans take back the Senate, keep the House and take the White House, they will pass a national abortion ban. (Trump has said he opposes a national abortion ban).
“It’s very important that we communicate that even in states where the right to abortion exists on the state level, [that] a national abortion ban, which [Republicans are seeking] and will seek, will overturn the right to abortion, even in states like New York and California,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “I think we really need to be very sharp about the stakes of this as something that we have to continue to emphasize.”
One Michigan Democrat pointed to voters approving an amendment to the state’s constitution in 2022 — after the Dobbs decision — guaranteeing the right to abortion and other reproductive health services as evidence of its down-ballot potency.
“This was clearly a question that was front of mind and it made a huge difference in the Michigan election, statewide and district by district, down to the legislative races,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). He acknowledged the difficulty of keeping the issue “in the political consciousness” but added that Republicans were “doing it for us. They cannot get out of their own way and they’re gonna pay a price for it, I believe.”
Not every lawmaker thinks abortion should be a central part of the party’s election year message. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who represents a purple district narrowly won by Biden in 2020, said “I don’t spend a lot of time talking about abortion in my race.” She said she didn’t last cycle, either.
“Quite frankly, I think the voters are aware of the national news. They’re aware enough that you don’t have to spend a whole lot of time talking about it,” she said.  

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