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Will Abortion Ballot Measures Help Many Democratic Candidates In November?

Will abortion on the ballot save her from herself?

In November, abortion will on the ballot in New York and Maryland and may be on the ballot in Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Montana. Will it inspire enough extra voter turnout to help Democrats? Let’s deal with the presidential contest, state by state, first, beginning with the 2020 results:

  • New York- Biden beat Trump 5,244,886 (60.9%) to 3,251,997 (37.7%)

  • Maryland- Biden beat Trump 1,985,023 (65.4%) to 976,414 (32.1%)

  • Arizona- Biden beat Trump 1,672,143 (49.4%) to 1,661,686 (49.1%)

  • Nevada- Biden beat Trump 703,486 (50.1%) to 699,890 (47.7%)

  • Florida- Trump beat Biden 5,668,731 (51.2%) to 5,297,045 (47.9%)

  • Montana- Trump beat Biden 343,602 (56.9%) to 244,786 (40.5%)

Biden doesn’t need the help in New York and Maryland and, barring a massive blue tsunami, Trump won’t be impacted enough to lose Montana’s 4 electoral votes even by a very strong pro-Choice turnoff. Biden would likely be helped in Arizona and Nevada, where polling has been poor for him. In Florida, Biden would need a massive pro-Choice turnout to do him any good. Unless his campaign makes a strenuous effort to register a million voters— the way Obama did in 2008 (who then won by 74,309)— he has no chance at all there. And there are no signs of any effort to register voters from the Florida Democratic Party or from the Biden campaign. Senate candidate Alan Grayson is making voter registration his top strategy but, at least for now, he doesn’t have the resources to make the kind of impact Biden would need.

All of those states have Senate races this cycle. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) doesn’t have a serious challenger. But the other 5 races are significant. Maryland should be a walk for the Democrats but two curve-balls got thrown out onto the field. First of all, worthless pro-genocide New Dem David Trone is determined to buy the nomination— he’s already spent $23,438,502 of his own money against Angela Alsobrooks. Second, the Republicans got lucky when popular former Gov. Larry Hogan decided to run for the Senate instead of for president. Polling has him ahead and he’d probably be able to beat Trone, a backbencher with no record that inspires anyone, without much effort. Hogan, though, does have an achilles heel— abortion. He’s personally anti-Choice and refuses to commit to voting to codify Roe v Wade. If Alsobrooks overcomes Trone, the expected extra turnout for the reproductive freedom constitutional amendment should help her defeat Hogan. If the Democrats lose Maryland, they lose the Senate.

In Nevada, the Democrats have one of their weakest incumbents, uninspiring centrist freshman Jacky Rosen, who’ll lose tens of thousands of votes from young people because of her pro-genocide mania. She’s up against a relative unknown, Sam Brown. In 2018, she beat incumbent Dean Heller 490,071 (50.4%) to 441,202 (45.4%), having outraised him $21.6 million to $14.5 million. An abortion amendment could help turn out more pro-Choice women in Clark (Las Vegas and suburbs) and Washoe (Reno) and could also cut the GOP margins in Carson City and in Douglas (Reno suburbs) and Lyon (Reno suburbs) counties.

In Florida, DeSantis’ Supreme Court will announce tomorrow whether or not a ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution will get onto the ballot as well as one the make sure recreational use of marijuana is not penalized. Both have more than enough signatures but the state Republican Party has pulled out every stop in the book to derail them anyway. Yesterday, Julia Mueller reported on how these ballot measures are faring in these states with Republican-controlled state governments.

“I accept it as a given that, if the abortion measure is on the Florida ballot in November, that it will undoubtedly increase turnout of abortion rights supporters, who tend to be mostly Democrats,” said Sunshine State-based Republican strategist Justin Sayfie.
Such a measure in Florida or elsewhere would likely mean “enhanced turnout” for Democrats, Sayfie said, leaving Republican candidates to either fight the issue or focus on another, like immigration, to energize their own base. 

The Democratic establishment candidate, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an inconsequential former one-term congresswoman backbencher who lost her blue seat in a year favorable to Democrats, is the weakest possible candidate the suicidal Florida Democratic Party could run against Rick Scott. There is virtually nothing that could happen that would allow her to beat him. She has absolutely nothing to offer the voters at all. If Grayson somehow manages to overcome her institutional support, Florida voters would at least have a real choice in governance approach and it would be a toss-up race instead of a crushing landslide. Grayson told me “the abortion initiative ought to be on the ballot simply because the current law in Florida doesn’t reflect the will of the people, or even close to it. Most people think that if it is on the ballot, Democratic turnout will increase. My view is that so many Democrats have been un-registered that it’s not enough, by itself, to make a difference.  Registration first, vote-by-mail second, get-out-the-vote (including through ballot initiatives) third… How are Democrats going to vote for this ballot initiative if they’re not registered to vote?”

Moving along, Mueller noted that “In Montana, the state’s Republican attorney general labeled as invalid a ballot measure to protect abortion, but the state Supreme Court earlier this month overruled the move, bringing the proposed constitutional amendment closer to the ballot. Although abortion is legal in Montana before fetal viability, abortion rights activists in the state want to enshrine the protections in a state with a GOP governor and GOP-controlled Legislature— and where incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is locked in a tight fight to hold onto his seat. Tester has been quietly supportive of the effort.”

The Montana Senate race is one where the ballot initiative could make all the difference in the world, since the election will probably be very close. In 2018, Tester scraped through against a crackpot neo-fascist candidate, Matt Rosendale 253,876 (50.3%) to 235,963 (46.8%). This time the GOP was smart enough to cut Rosendale. Off at the knees and Tester will be up against a more conventional Republican, Tim Sheehy, who was endorsed by Trump. For Tester, turning out more women in blue-leaning Missoula, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Cascade and Silver Bow and possibly in red-leaning counties like Ravalli, Yellowstone and Flathead, will give him another 6 year term.

And that brings us to pivotal Arizona, where a moderate progressive, Ruben Gallego will face off against a deranged, extremist MAGAt, Kari Lake. The signature drive for a constitutional amendment is still underway. Mueller: “The effort ‘presents a great opportunity for Democrats’ to win over voters and rally turnout, said Arizona-based Republican strategist Lorna Romero. ‘The last election cycle, especially here in Arizona, at least when it came to moderate Republicans and swing voters, the folks that the Republican Party is trying to court more in swing states… usually those swing voters have some pro-choice leanings,’ Romero said.”

House races where pro-Choice amendments will bolster Democrats enough to flip seats:

AZ-01- David Schweikert

AZ-06- Juan Ciscomani

FL-27- Maria Salazar

NY-01- Nick LaLota

NY-04- Anthony D’Esposito

NY-17- Mike Lawler

NY-19- Marc Molinaro

NY-22- Brandon Williams

Yesterday, Conor O’Callaghan, the strongly pro-Choice Democrat taking on Schweikert in AZ-01 was positive and upbeat about the abortion-protection ballot proposition in Arizona. “Make no mistake,” he told us, “abortion rights will literally be on the ballot in Arizona in November and figuratively on the ballot nationwide. If the MAGA extremists had their way, they would absolutely impose a national abortion ban at the first opportunity. We expect voters to come out in droves to support abortion rights and pro-choice politicians and send a strong message that Republicans are long and wrong on this issue.”  

If Democrats had even marginally better candidates in Florida, the abortion protection initiative would be a serious threat to GOP incumbents Aaron Bean, Cory Mills, Anna Paulina Luna, Laurel Lee and Carlos Giménez— 5 seats where a moribund state party couldn’t even find a plausible candidate to run against a vulnerable right-wing nut!

Pro-Choice ballot initiatives are also likely to help protect 4 blue seats in swing districts:

MD-06- open (Trone)

NV-03- Susie Lee

NY-03 Tom Suozzi

NY-18- Pat Ryan

Yesterday, Natalie Andrews dealt with pro-Choice issues beyond just those states with ballot initiatives. Voters are surly about Republicans taking away peoples' rights and interfering with their lives. It's a bad look for the party's candidates, although it remains to be seen if the Democrats can effectively exploit that enough to win seats.

"A congressional race in Iowa," she wrote, "is testing whether the national uproar surrounding in vitro fertilization will help Democrats win in November—and potentially tip control of the House in their favor. In the state’s First Congressional District, Democrat Christina Bohannan is challenging Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks in a rematch from 2022. This time, Bohannan is talking with voters about her personal experience with IVF, leaning into the fight over reproductive rights. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in February that frozen embryos can be legally considered children, raising concerns about the future of fertility treatments in that state…Democrats think the battle over reproductive rights will shift their voters in their direction the same way abortion boosted the party in 2022 after the Supreme Court ruled there was no constitutional right to the procedure. While Republicans won control of the House that election, their ‘red wave’ failed to materialize. The unexpectedly narrow majority they were left with— now 218-213— has undercut their efforts to govern. By raising the prospect of new restrictions on IVF, the Alabama ruling drew attention to the stance held by many Republicans that life begins at conception. That position, intended as an argument for banning abortion, also implicates IVF, in which some unused embryos are discarded.”


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