GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t in the habit of saying much unless he thinks he has to. So the fact that he sat down with NPR to defend the Supreme Court's radical draft decision on Roe v. Wade and downplay its effect on the midterm is telling.
"I think it will be certainly heavily debated in state legislative and governor's races because the court will have, in effect, returned this issue to the political process," McConnell said, trying to cordon off the state-level impacts from Congress. "My guess is in terms of the impact on federal races, I think it's probably going to be a wash."
Nice try. The notion that key Senate contests will somehow be hermetically sealed from gubernatorial races where abortion rights loom especially large—particularly in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona—is preposterous.
Meanwhile, Axios is reporting that Republicans were "shaken" by the leak after they thought they could go on autopilot for the rest of the cycle and cruise into the majority.
An adviser to House GOP leaders says their polling shows voters aren't "hip to this kind of seismic change," particularly in the battleground districts where the majorities will be decided.
Christina Reynolds, VP of Communications at EMILY's List, talks about spending $150 million to center abortion rights in this November’s elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
Huh. Turns out voters just aren’t that into “seismic change” on a deeply personal issue that had been settled law for half a century. The reason we can be assured Republicans have a problem on their hands is the fact that McConnell went on record declaring the issue a "wash."
In the meantime, Axios has another report on the districts and races where the abortion upheaval is likely to matter most.
House of Representatives
New York: State maps aren't final yet, but two Republican seats in Long Island in the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts could prove problematic.
California: Orange County Republican incumbent Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Steel are potentially vulnerable.
Beyond those four GOP seats, Axios homes in on districts in and around college towns, including North Carolina's 13th District, where incumbent GOP Rep. Ted Budd is making a Senate bid, Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio in Oregon's 4th District, and Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Michigan's 7th District.
As Slotkin spokesperson Austin Cook noted, "It's not theoretical for Michiganders — the moment Roe is overturned, the law snaps back into effect and the consequences will be immediate.”
But the damage in terms of Senate races could be even more catastrophic.
In Pennsylvania, a key pickup target for Senate Democrats, Republicans have spent the final week of their primary explaining to voters how each candidate was best suited to consign abortion rights to the dustbin of history.
Army veteran and author Kathy Barnette, who is suddenly giving her two male rivals a run for their money, revealed during a debate that she was born to a mother who had been raped at 11 years old.
"I was not just a lump of cells," Barnette said, pointedly challenging the pro-life cred of TV huckster Mehmet Oz, whom Trump endorsed, and former hedge fund manager David McCormick.
After the exchange, Oz underwent a "life begins at conception" conversion.
McCormick, who supports an abortion ban with a limited exception for the life of the mother, then attacked Oz for putting forward "phony" positions.
The same is true in Georgia, where all six candidates vying for the GOP nomination have backed total bans without exceptions, according to Time.
In Ohio, GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance famously called abortion "inconvenient" and opposes exceptions for rape and incest.
And in Wisconsin, incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, an eager backer of abortion bans, has just begun shoving foot into mouth on the fall of Roe.
“It might be a little messy for some people, but abortion is not going away,” Johnson said, before offering the pitch-perfect insight that Wisconsinites could still drive across state lines to Illinois. “I just don’t think this is going to be the big political issue everybody thinks it is, because it’s not going to be that big a change.”
So sure, McConnell can say whatever he wants on the record. But in Michigan State House District 74, Democrat Carol Glanville defeated Republican Robert Regan last week by 8 points in a seat Republicans had won in 2020 by a 26-point margin.
Glanville scored that upset on the same night Politico broke news of the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Her victory was forged when Regan said during a livestream, "Having three daughters, I tell my daughters, well, 'If rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it.'"
The entire episode had Todd Akin redux written all over it. Rest assured: More of those GOP witticisms on abortion are coming down the pike at a moment when America's women are reeling. How that will ultimately play in November remains to be seen, but it is undoubtedly a net-plus for Democrats and McConnell damn well knows it.