Election Day: Will Dems Defy Political Gravity Again?
Opposition to abortion bans has fueled Democratic victories, will it do so again?
Today is election day in several states across the country and the stakes are incredibly high. From gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Mississippi to state legislative races in New Jersey and Virginia, and an Ohio ballot referendum to enshrine the right to abortion access in the state constitution, voters have big decisions to make.
In Virginia, Republicans could win complete control of the government and enact Governor Glenn Youngkin’s MAGA agenda, which includes a 15-week abortion ban. Virginia stands as the final Southern state with abortion access. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is the only person protecting Kentuckians from a series of extreme policies, including a draconian abortion ban. His opponent, Daniel Cameron, supports banning abortion without exceptions. In Ohio, the right to access an abortion is on the ballot. In the New Jersey races, Democrats are strongly positioned as the clear frontrunners, while the Cook Report assesses the Mississippi Governor’s race as leaning towards the Republican side.
The political press tends to draw outsized conclusions based on these off-year election results. If Democrats have a good night, they’ll say it’s a sign that Joe Biden’s got a strong shot at reelection, even if the polls don’t quite show it. On the other hand, a bad night for Democrats will be read as certain doom for 2024. Those sorts of takes are absurd on their face; it’s foolhardy to assign so much predictive value to relatively low-turnout races in non-battleground states. Nonetheless, these elections can provide valuable insights into the current political landscape, helping us shape our future strategies. With that in mind, here’s what I'll be keeping a close eye on as the election results come in.
1. Is Abortion Still the Dominant Issue?
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats have seemingly defied political odds. We’ve managed to secure victories in elections, even in the face of Joe Biden’s approval ratings and public sentiment regarding the economy. That’s because abortion has become the dominant issue in American politics. Not only has it redefined the electoral landscape but it’s also driven increased voter turnout and registration among those opposed to the abortion bans advocated by Republicans nationwide.
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