Will The Supreme Courts' Extremism Be A Lifeline For Swing District Democratic Candidates?
On Friday, Baptist News columnist David Gushee wrote that “Many people appear baffled about the hard-right turn in U.S. conservative religion. It’s not just a turn to politics, or to hard-right politics, that is problematic. It is the apparent amorality, the cruelty, bigotry and snarling spirit that is so impossible to reconcile with the Spirit of Christ. It’s the nasty cast of characters who are most associated with ‘Christians’ in politics today, including (just for a start, the list is endless) the rogue’s gallery of Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Colorado Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate and election-denier Doug Mastriano, the supposedly newly converted Trump dirty trickster/pardoned criminal Roger Stone, and of course Donald J. Trump his very own self. It’s the way the crowds at the rallies of these people eat up the toxic red meat these figures throw to them. Christians used to be the victims in the Roman Colosseum. These ‘Christians’ are more like the Roman leaders and their debased crowds, baying for blood.”
Yesterday, the Indiana Senate rushed to pass a punitive and near-total abortion ban, prohibiting abortions from the time a fertilized egg implants in a uterus, motivated by a desire to assert patriarchal societal control over women and to push them back toward the kind of pre-Enlightenment ages conservatives aspires to.
This is basically, how strong Democratic women— like Melanie D’Arrigo on suburban Long Island— are responding. Listen to her words:
On Tuesday, Kansas will be the first state since the illegitimate Trump Court struck down Roe to vote on the issue. Much of Kansas already exists in the Dark Ages and would if the primitives there could, be burning women and Jews as witches and heretics. There are counties so backward and so at odds with progress that there’s nothing to do with them but tolerate their abnormalities… as long as they don’t interfere with normal people. These are Kansas counties they have more in common with pre-Renaissance Europe— and happily so— than with the 21st Century:
Wallace Co.- 93.3% Trump, 38% fully vaccinated
Sheridan Co.- 88.7% Trump, 36% fully vaccinated
Ness Co.- 88.5% Trump, 53% fully vaccinated
Gove Co.- 87.8% Trump, 49% fully vaccinated
Phillips Co.- 86.9% Trump, 44% fully vaccinated
Stevens Co.- 86.7% Trump, 40% fully vaccinated
Morton Co.- 86.3% Trump, 43% fully vaccinated
Rooks Co.- 86.1% Trump, 49% fully vaccinated
Barber Co.- 86.0% Trump, 48% fully vaccinated
Greeley Co.- 85.7% Trump, 52% fully vaccinated
Logan Co.- 85.7% Trump, 48% fully vaccinated
Scott Co.- 85.6% Trump, 49% fully vaccinated
Chautauqua Co.- 85.3% Trump, 42% fully vaccinated
Jewell Co.- 85.2% Trump, 47% fully vaccinated
Lane Co.- 85.1% Trump, 43% fully vaccinated
No one has to guess which way these 15 dark places will be voting on Tuesday. Today’s NY Times, however, focused on a part of Kansas that is very much like the rest of America, suburban Kansas City. Douglas County is 63% fully vaccinated, compared to 67% of the country. The county gave just 28.8% of its vote to Trump in 2020. Johnson County voted 44.5% Trump and 78% of the folks in the county are fully vaccinated.
Katie Glueck wrote that “In the final days before Kansans decide whether to remove abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, the politically competitive Kansas City suburbs have become hotbeds of activism… There may be no greater motivator in modern American politics than anger. And for months, Republican voters enraged by the Biden administration have been explosively energized about this year’s elections. Democrats, meanwhile, have confronted erosion with their base and significant challenges with independent voters. But interviews with more than 40 voters in populous Johnson County, Kan., this week show that after the fall of Roe, Republicans no longer have a monopoly on fury— especially in states where abortion rights are clearly on the abbot and particularly in the battleground suburbs.”
Her report asserts that “There is no question that the abortion debate in the state’s most populous county— located in the Third District of Kansas, one of the nation’s most competitive congressional seats— offers the first significant national test of how the issue is resonating in suburban swing territory… The Tuesday vote will offer an early snapshot of attitudes and energy around abortion, if not a definitive predictor of how those voters will behave in the fall.”
The anti-Choice initiative will likely pass in Kansas, while failing in all the swing areas of the state. Nationally, a new poll by Suffolk University for USA Today shows that “Concern about abortion access has exploded among Democratic voters as an election issue over the past month… Now, 64% of Democrats say the court’s action makes them more likely to vote in November, potentially a crucial factor in midterm elections that traditionally have low turnout. That’s more than double the 29% of Democrats who expressed that view in a USA Today/Suffolk survey taken after a draft of the landmark decision was leaked in June.”
The Associated Press’ Tom Beaumont was also reporting from Kansas this morning and he pointed out how the Democratic congresswoman from the 3rd district, Sharice Davids, is putting resources into showing the contrast between her pro-Choice position and that of her antediluvian GOP opponent, extremist lunatic Amanda Adkins, who opposes women’s Choice. He wrote that “A half-dozen of the most vulnerable House members— all of them women, all representing swaths of suburban voters— see the issue as one that could help them win in an otherwise difficult political climate. In addition to Davids, these incumbents include Reps. Angie Craig of Minnesota, Cindy Axne of Iowa, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria of Virginia, and Susan Wilds of Pennsylvania. They all face Republican opponents who support the high court’s abortion ruling. Some are contending with rivals who back efforts to ban abortion in all circumstances, including when the mother’s life is at risk.”
They all represent swing districts, many of which have become redder territory after the redistricting, all of which are tough in red wave years. Davids, Luria and Wild look especially vulnerable. If the ant-Choice SCOTUS ruling is going to give the Democrats any miracles, it will be in their districts. This is how their districts’ partisan leans changed under the new maps:
Sharice Davids (KS-03)- D+4 to R+3
Angie Craig (MN-02)- D+1 to D+1
Cindy Axne (IA-03)- R+2 to R+2
Elissa Slotkin (MI-07)- R+8 to R+4
Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)- R+5 to D+2
Elaine Luria (VA-02)- R+2 to R+6
Susan Wild (PA-07)- even to R+4
But will abortion be enough to save them despite consistent and effective messaging from the GOP and the media that Biden is at least as big a disaster as president as Trump was, and even worse in some ways, like on the economy, usually the issue that decides elections?
“In a close, toss-up election, which I think all of these are, it can make a difference,” said national pollster Christine Matthews, a self-described moderate who has worked for Republicans. “It’s not going to be what drives everyone to make a vote choice, but it will drive some people to make a vote choice.”
Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults named abortion or women’s rights in an open-ended question as one of up to five problems they want the government to address in the next year, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in June. That has more than doubled since December.
Since the Supreme Court decision, as state governments have moved to act on abortion rights, AP-NORC polling has found a majority of people in the United States saying they want Congress to pass legislation guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.
Overwhelming majorities also think states should allow abortion in specific cases, including if the health of the pregnant woman is endangered or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Like those questioned overall, a majority of suburbanites think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to AP-NORC polling. Suburbanites also were slightly more likely than city residents and significantly more likely than people living in rural areas to say abortion or women’s rights are among the top issues for the government to address, according to the AP-NORC poll from June.
That’s particularly important in districts such as Axne’s in Iowa, which includes Des Moines’ teeming suburbs. Dallas County, west of Des Moines, has been one of the country’s fastest-growing counties since 2000, with the cornfields from decades ago now covered in new homes, schools and commercial developments.
In an interview, Axne was adamant that she would make abortion a central theme of her campaign. Axne’s GOP opponent is state Rep. Zach Nunn, who indicated in a primary debate that he opposes abortion without exceptions.
“I can’t even believe I have to say this. I have an opponent who would let a woman die to bear a child,” Axne said. “This is crap we don’t see in this country. This is the stuff we talk about in other countries and women not having rights.”
In Michigan, Rep. Elissa Slotkin faces state Sen. Tom Barrett, who supports only an exception to save a woman’s life.
“That’s more extreme than the 1931 law that’s on our books,” Slotkin said in an interview. “So I think that that’s an important contrast to make.”
The Adkins, Barrett and Nunn campaigns did not reply to telephone, email and text messages seeking comment for this story.
In Virginia, Yesli Vega, the Republican challenging Spanberger in a district that spans the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and Richmond, has not dismissed the debunked theory that pregnancy is unlikely in cases of rape. In audio published by Axios late last month, Vega was asked during a campaign event in May whether “it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant if she’s been raped.”
Vega responded, Axios reported, “Maybe, because there’s so much going on in the body. I don’t know. I haven’t seen any studies. But if I’m processing what you’re saying, it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that’s happening organically. Right? You’re forcing it.”
The answer was reminiscent of what Todd Akin, a Missouri congressman who was the Republican nominee for Senate in 2012, said during that campaign. In discussing his opposition to exceptions for rape victims, Akin claimed, “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
The comments were viewed as a major contributor to his loss to Democrat Clare McCaskill, a vulnerable incumbent.
In Virginia, Spanberger released a digital ad last week declaring that Vega’s “views don’t represent Virginia.”
Earlier, Spanberger had said Vega’s comment was “extreme and ignorant” and “horrifying and disrespectful to the millions of American women who have or will become pregnant due to sexual violence.”
One of the Spanberger’s campaign digital posts used this headline: “Republican congressional candidate pulls a Todd Akin on abortion.”