Abortion advocates racked up major wins Tuesday after voters in the largely conservative state of Ohio voted to pass a constitutional amendment codifying abortion.
In Virginia, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin devised what he termed a “compromise” on abortion, a 15-week ban he believed would isolate Democrats and help Republicans win full control of the state government. That gamble failed, with Democrats retaining control of the state senate and flipping the house. Youngkin will now have to spend the next two years trying to advance his agenda with a Democrat-controlled legislature.
The results in both states show how important the issue of abortion remains, even as last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade has been in the nation’s rearview mirror for nearly a year-and-a-half. Persistent widespread support for abortion also complicates the math for Republicans who refuse to compromise on their opposition to the procedure, but still want to win elections.
“People think the farther away you get from the decision, it’ll peter out. These election results yesterday showed that that’s just not true,” said Democratic Strategist Leslie Marshall, who spoke with Timcast News. “And I don’t think it’ll be petered out —the anger, or the emotions, or the beliefs — by the general election in November [of 2024].”
In paraphrasing GOP presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Marshall said that in order to win Republicans must be pro-life, but also pro-woman, noting there is “a very sensitive and delicate balance to that dance.”
Conservative TV show host Tomi Lahren warned that if Republicans don’t shift how they talk about abortion, it will spell disaster for 2024 election prospects.
“If republicans don’t get abortion messaging right or refuse to move to the center on that issue, next November will be a red wedding, not a red wave,” she wrote on social media platform X. “Shriek all you want about pro-life and that’s fine, but strict abortion ban policies will lose elections. That’s the cold hard truth.”
Ohio’s ballot initiative was written to include issues other than abortion, thereby making it more likely to gain support among voters, a Republican consultant told Timcast News.
A “yes” vote on Ohio’s Issue 1 enshrined a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy, and allow the state to restrict abortion after fetal viability.”
The strategy could be employed by progressive politicians and activists working to get abortion initiatives on the ballot for 2024, not only to legalize the procedure at the state level, but also to drive voter turnout.
Nationwide polling shows roughly two-thirds of Americans believe abortion should be legal in the earliest stages of pregnancy.
“Democrats, to their credit, made this their signature issue of this campaign,” J. Miles Coleman, an election analyst at the University of Virginia, told the New York Times of abortion. “It’s still a very potent energizer.”
Exit polls for Ohio show that liberals accounted for 34 percent of voters, up from just 20 percent in last year’s midterm elections, marking record-high turnout dating back to 1984. Turnout among Republicans dropped six percentage points from the 2022 midterms.
Tresa Undem, a public opinion researcher who studies abortion and supports abortion rights, told the Washington Post, “If I were an antiabortion politician, I’d be scared.”
Two states showing such strong support for abortion shows Republicans still have much work to do to contain the fallout from their multi-state push to ban the procedure in numerous states, with some even calling for federal bans.
“The GOP lied at every turn. They called their plan to ban abortion in Virginia a plan to keep abortion legal in the state and claimed it was just a ‘limit.’ Well, tonight, Virginians showed the GOP and Glenn Youngkin exactly what voters have to say about it: We don’t want abortion bans, and we don’t want leaders who do,” Mini Timmaraju, president of Reproductive Freedom for All, said in a statement quoted by U.S. News & World Report after the election.
Virginia’s results “serve as a warning sign for the GOP heading into 2024,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, said in a statement to the publication. “While GOP candidates rallied around protecting babies from painful late-term abortions beginning at 15 weeks, they allowed Democrats to dominate the abortion narrative on the airwaves and sow confusion with voters. Last night proved this is not a formula for success for the GOP.”
Among Republicans, following the fewer-than-anticipated election wins, there was widespread finger-pointing, similar to what occurred after last year’s devastating midterm election.
The target of a considerable number of social media attacks is Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel, who is facing renewed calls to step down as head of the party.
RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel is absolutely worthless!
Did you even see or hear from her during this election cycle, or any prior ones?
Her silence was deafening to candidates! She didn’t even fund them! She has NO path forward!
This is her 4th term. WHAT HAS SHE DONE?… pic.twitter.com/deInpTItQg
— 🇺🇸ProudArmyBrat (@leslibless) November 8, 2023
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) November 8, 2023
Ronna McDaniel will go down as the worst RNC Chair in history
— Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) November 2, 2023