Early in the 2022 midterm elections cycle, we at Daily Kos posited that Democrats would buck historical trends and win based on two factors: the MAGA assault on our democracy led by Donald Trump, and our illegitimate Supreme Court’s destruction of abortion rights.
As the 2024 election cycle takes shape, those exact dynamics are once again at play, but turned up to 11. Trump’s bald assault on our democracy is spotlighted by multiple existing and expected indictments, yet the Republican Party still can’t quit him.
And just as impactful, the ongoing battle over abortion rights remains extremely toxic to Republicans.
CNN’s new poll shows that abortion isn’t fading from the public’s consciousness. In fact, it’s doing quite the opposite. Asked, “How do you feel about the Court overturning Roe vs. Wade?,” just 36% of respondents approve, with 64% disapproving. That’s a two-thirds majority of the American electorate furious at the Supreme Court’s decision to strip away key rights. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from one year ago.
What’s more, voters know darn well what is at stake in next year’s elections, with 29%of respondents saying they will “only vote for a candidate who shares your views on abortion,” compared to 26% last year. Another 55% will consider a candidate’s abortion stance when making their voting decisions. Given that only 25% think overturning Roe has had a “net positive effect” on the “United States States as a whole,” compared to 64% who disagree, Republicans don’t want anyone thinking about abortion when casting their ballots.
And there’s the key: The hardcore Christian fundamentalist bloc always voted with the Supreme Court and abortion in mind. Liberals, on the other hand, were complacent in their misguided beliefs that precedent and common sense would protect everyone’s abortion rights. They were inured to the decades-long conservative effort to chip away at those rights, in the same sense as the boiling frog metaphor. Had last year’s Supreme Court merely shrunk the abortion window to, say, 16 weeks rather than reverse Roe v. Wade outright, most people would’ve shrugged it off.
By actually delivering what Republican politicians had long promised their voters, the Supreme Court ensured Republican electoral losses in the 2022 midterm elections, and the repercussions continue.
It must’ve been quite the shock to the theocrats in states like Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana to so handily lose the abortion issue at the ballot box. Literally preaching to the choir served them poorly when it came to properly understanding the state of American popular opinion. And by arguing for over 50 years that abortion is “murder,” Republican politicians have zero room to try and sell a “compromise” that might soften voter anger. If abortion is murder at 38 weeks, it’s murder at 16 weeks, and it’s murder at one week.
Tuesday’s ballot initiative in Ohio tried to raise the bar to 60% approval for future ballot initiatives in order to prevent anything short of a supermajority from protecting abortion rights in the state. Missouri is attempting the same thing as well. If you can’t beat them … then rig the game against them. But those efforts only seem to further energize progressive voters. Anger is a great motivator—not the fake “Oh noes, Barbie was mean to men” manufactured outrage fomented by the right, but real anger, the kind that can only bubble up when one’s personal rights are stripped away.
The new electoral math really sucks for Republicans.
Their core base is always going to vote on abortion, though ballot initiative results this past year suggest they might not be as motivated to do so anymore. Maybe it’s the kind of complacency that sets in when they think they won. Maybe they regret their choices now that they’re seeing the real-world effects of the bans. Or maybe they’ve been stunned into submission upon seeing the fierce backlash on an issue they thought had mass appeal.
Whatever the case, we must still assume most on the right will continue to vote on the issue.
But now we have an energized, motivated, and organized liberal majority furious at the Supreme Court and the loss of a cherished right. That is new. We saw the issue’s power in last year’s midterms, we saw it with Ohio’s efforts to sneak through an abortion ban ballot initiative yesterday, and we’re going to see it again next year.
But there’s a third factor: those crucial college-educated suburban voters who are currently the nation’s only swing demographic. They have their doubts about Trumpism, but they were easily duped by Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in the 2021 contest. He pretended to be moderate, and they wanted so much to believe he was. Those college-educated suburban white women aren’t a core Democratic constituency just yet.
But they’re getting there. Trump’s shenanigans keep the MAGA threat to our democracy front and center. The rise of incel women-hating conservative personalities like Nick Fuentes, Jordan Peterson, and Andrew Tate is further horrifying educated women. Just a quick reminder of what Fuentes advocates, from The Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis:
In his videos, Fuentes doesn’t just rail against gay marriage or trans athletes—issues that mainstream conservatives might oppose. Nor does he just go after birth control, contraceptives, and internet pornography. His vision of a good society looks like one where “women don’t have the right to vote,” “women wearing veils at church,” and “women [aren’t] in the workforce.”
Fuentes adds, “It’s not enough to say, ‘We’re against Trannies,’ you’ve got to be against women’s rights, too…or else, what are we really trying to achieve here, 1999? We want to go back to 1099. We want to go back to the Middle Ages.”
This is what now passes for intellectualism in MAGA conservative circles.
And of course, Republicans can’t quit the abortion issue. They can’t simply declare victory, say they accomplished what they set out to do at the Supreme Court, and leave any further decisions to the states. These same “states-rights” hypocrites are now pushing for a national ban, even as they try to criminalize crossing state lines to get abortions. The “party of freedom” has utterly surrendered to its own brand of bleak totalitarianism.
So what’s a Republican who wants to win elected office to do? Apparently, stay the course! Man the torpedoes and keep striking at democracy and abortion rights, because their primary voters demand nothing less.
If current trends continue and we do what we need to do to press the advantage and win next year, Republicans will be left wondering how many more losing election cycles they’ll have to endure before they finally purge their party of the MAGA Trumpism that has led to loss after loss since 2018.
We are joined by Christina Reynolds of Emily’s List. Reynolds is the Senior Vice President of Communications and Content at the progressive organization that works on getting women elected to office. Reynolds talks about what she is seeing up and down the ballot this election cycle on the anniversary of the outrageous Supreme Court Decision to take away the reproductive protections of Roe v. Wade.