"We saw this huge surge in voting on abortion in 2022, first in Kansas, about six weeks after the Dobbs decision and then in November," Ryan Stitzlein, senior national political director of NARAL Pro-choice America, told Daily Kos.
"What I remind people all the time is, in the political world, that's not actually much time between the Dobbs ruling, which was in June, and then August and November," Stitzlein continued, noting that a lot of bans hadn't even been enacted yet and most people hadn't realized how it would affect their lives.
Stitzlein says reporters often ask him if he thinks abortion will be as resonant for voters next year at the ballot box, to which he answers, "I only see their frustration and intensity on this issue growing as they continue to live in this crisis."
He points to Wisconsin, where liberal judge Janet Protasiewicz recently won an eye-popping 11-point victory after making abortion rights the focal point of her campaign. That special election took place just five months after a midterm in which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers won reelection by a much more modest 3-point margin and Democrats narrowly missed a chance to flip Republican Sen. Ron Johnson's seat by 1 point. Still, in a 50-50 state, Evers’ victory margin was a veritable landslide. And yet just a few months later, Protasiewicz won by double-digit margins. That should’ve stopped Republicans dead in their tracks..
Instead, Republican lawmakers in the only two red states Democrats have a chance to flip in next year's presidential contest, Florida and North Carolina, have barreled headlong into the abortion ban buzzsaw.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's eyeing a presidential bid, feared the politics of the GOP's six-week abortion ban so much that he buried his bill-signing last month in the midnight hour.
Now progressive groups in the Sunshine State are investing millions in a push to get a measure protecting abortion rights on the ballot next year.
North Carolina, helmed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, is even more interesting. Republicans—who hold a supermajority in both chambers by a single seat each—rammed through a 12-week abortion ban last week. Cooper has vowed to veto it, and he's searching for a single Republican to doom the GOP bill.
"We only need one Republican in either the House or Senate to help sustain the veto of this dangerous abortion ban," Cooper tweeted last Thursday, name-checking four GOP lawmakers who had vowed to protect abortion rights. "Ted Davis, Michael Lee, John Bradford and Tricia Cotham promised to protect women’s reproductive freedom. There’s still time for them to keep their promises," he added.
Cooper didn't stop there. Not only did he record a video announcement highlighting how the bill would erode abortion rights beyond the 12-week ban, he appeared on “Face the Nation” noting that "every single Democrat" had signed onto a bill protecting Roe v. Wade standards.
"We're all standing together and fighting," he said, "and what we have to do now is defend ourselves from these right-wing politicians who want to go into the exam room with women and their doctors."
NARAL's Stitzlein says the flip-flop of those four North Carolina GOP lawmakers is proof positive that, bottom line, the Republican Party wants to enact a nationwide abortion ban and they will push one through as soon as they have the power to do so.
"All four of them during their campaigns said they would not do the thing that they went and did," he notes, "and as soon as they got the chance, they went back on their word."
Whatever ultimately happens to the GOP's abortion ban bill, North Carolina Democrats will spend the next year rallying their troops to strip the Republican Party of a dangerous veto-proof majority.
2023 may be an off-year, but that just means Virginia takes its traditional place as one of the key states to watch. With odd-year state elections, Virginia has often been a key bellwether for the rest of the country and this year is no different. Both the State Senate and the General Assembly are up and both chambers could be won by either party. Daily Kos Elections Editor Jeff Singer joins us to preview the key races in both the June primary and the fall general election.
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