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Abortion Could Haunt Republicans In 2024, Strategists Warn

Ohio's vote against protecting abortion access 'shows that abortion continues to be a very tricky subject for Republicans post Roe reversal'

A ballot initiative in Ohio that would have made protecting abortion access more difficult failed on Aug. 8 after being voted down in a special election.

Issue 1 was a provision that would have raised the threshold for approving changes to the state constitution through elections from a simple majority (50 percent + a single vote) to 60 percent. Ohio voters rejected the change, handing a win to pro-abortion supporters ahead of a November vote seeking to protect abortion in the state’s constitution.

The Republican-backed measure failed by a staggering 15 points (57 percent voted against it, while 42 percent supported it), showing that abortion is still a key issue for many voters, even those in jurisdictions considered safely conservative.

Following the vote, Republican strategists are sounding the alarm over the outsized role abortion rights could play in the outcome of the 2024 elections, where Republicans are hoping to win back the Senate and retain control of the House.

The vote on Issue 1 “shows that abortion continues to be a very tricky subject for Republicans post Roe reversal,” a Senate Republican strategist told The Hill.

“Independent college-educated women, even those who lean to the right, are breaking in a way that they never have on the abortion issue. Before the Roe reversal, independent right-leaning women were almost a lock for Republicans but now it’s not so clear,” the strategist added.

While many Republicans and conservatives led efforts for nearly five decades to overturn landmark ruling, Gallup polling data from July (more than a year after the decision) shows that 61 percent of Americans believe overturning Roe v. Wade was a “bad thing.”

Gallup also found the public is now shifting to identifying as more “pro-choice” than “pro-life.”

Abortion proved to be a major factor in the 2022 midterm election outcomes, boosting Democrats in battleground states and slowing the much anticipated Republican “red wave” to a trickle.

Now, political insiders say the huge turnout in Ohio signals that abortion may play a signifiant role in determining which candidates win or lose in the 2024 elections, where Democrats will be defending 20 Senate seats and Republicans will defend 11.

“Abortion persists as a major mobilizing and motivating issue and persuasion issue. We saw record high turnout in Ohio, it was a little over 3 million,” Celinda Lake, a prominent Democratic pollster, told The Hill.

“We saw mobilization of voters that hadn’t even voted in 2022. In the early vote alone, there were 30,000 voters who voted in [Tuesday’s] election that hadn’t voted in 2022 and they were largely women and African American women,” she added.

The Washington Post reported that since Ohio voters rejected the initiative two days ago, Democrats are now eyeing fresh opportunities to shine a spotlight on the issue of abortion for the 2024 election, citing new ballot initiatives in states like Arizona and Florida.

Given the “unexpectedly high voter turnout in defense of abortion rights” in suburbs from Kansas City to Louisville to Columbus, as the Post noted, new ballot measures that emerge on 2024 ballots are almost certain to get more left-leaning voters to the polls.

The day of the Ohio vote, Arizona abortion rights activists began a new push to get a the state’s constitution amended to protect abortions. The proposed amendment would allow women to have an abortion until the fetus is about to survive outside the womb, typically around the 24th week of pregnancy, as ABC News reported.

Arizona for Abortion Access, a new political action committee supporting the effort, filed proposed language for the amendment with the Secretary of State’s office, a prerequisite to begin the process of getting the issue on the 2024 ballot.

“We know that there is support for that because candidates have organized their own political campaigns in the past on this and won, so we know that people will vote for the issue itself,” said Jodi Liggett, a senior adviser for NARAL Arizona.

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