Friday, November 11, 2022

More on Abortion Rights as Motivating Force for Voters and on Trump's Toxicity for GOP

Photo of stack of newspapers by Daniel R. Blume, Wikimedia Commons

More dissection of the results of this week's U.S. elections, with continuing claims that "abortion rights proved a hugely motivating force for voters in Tuesday’s midterms" (Moira Donegan) and an astonishing statement by Trump that he rigged the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election in favor of DeSantis, a claim commented on by Heather Cox Richardson and Aaron Rupar:

Jennifer Rubin, "The secret to Democrats' Senate success: Candidates and abortion":

Juicing women and young voters, the decision reversing Roe v. Wade created a substantial gender gap. Just 42 percent of men voted for Democrats according to exit polls; 53 percent of women did. And Democrats won the under-30 vote by double digits. On the issues that matter most, abortion (27 percent) ranked just below inflation (31 percent). Of those who listed abortion, more than three-quarters voted Democratic. And 59 percent of voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. ...

President Biden was right: Dobbs angered women and drove pro-choice voters to the polls. The decision largely cemented the “blue wall” in Michigan and Pennsylvania (with Democrats winning the governors’ and Senate races) and probably helped keep Sun Belt states Biden won in 2020 (Georgia, Arizona) in the Democrats’ column.

Moira Donegan, "We were told abortion wasn’t an important election issue. How wrong that was": 

Ahead of the election, it became conventional wisdom among a kind of self-serious, mostly male political commentator to insist that not only were the Democrats doomed, they had doomed themselves, specifically, by talking about abortion too much. The party had dragged itself down with a social issue that was ultimately not very important, we were told. The Democrats were going to lose, and it was going to be because they had spent too much time catering to the flighty and unserious demands of feminists.

Instead, abortion rights proved a hugely motivating force for voters in Tuesday’s midterms. A still-potent anger at the Dobbs decision drove women and young people to the polls, propelled the most vocally pro-choice Democratic candidates to victory, delivered decisive wins for abortion-rights advocates in every state referendum on the issue, and helped to dramatically improve the Democrats’ performance in what was supposed to be a “bloodbath” election favoring Republicans.

We now head into 2023 with Democrats holding onto a chance to keep the Senate; if they lose the House, they will only lose it by a handful of seats. There was no bloodbath; there was barely a paper cut. Abortion rights, and the women voters who wanted to defend them, are a big part of why. 

David Gushee, "Trump’s toxicity: A first take on the midterm elections": 

The other issue that appears to have swung many voters toward the Democrats was the Supreme Court’s overturning of a national right to abortion. This abolition of a 50-year precedent shocked many into mobilizing to restore the lost rights or prevent their further erosion, at both state and national levels. Both state-level referenda in conservative states like Kansas (and now Kentucky!) as well as various elections show a highly motivated group of voters on the pro-choice side, including a large share of young voters, both women and men.

This outcome is also directly connected to Donald Trump, because as president he nominated the three jurists who became votes for overturning Roe v. Wade.

My view long has been that the Republican game on abortion was clear, for many elections: gain votes by promising to roll back abortion, and then fail to deliver, partly by nominating Supreme Court justices who, in the end, did not overturn the old precedent. This had the salutary political benefit of making the same strategy available in the next election. This strategy worked from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush.

But it ended with the Dobbs decision, which was made possible, in part, by Trump nominating three judges who turned out to be uninterested in playing the old game — and whose epochal decision changed U.S. politics.

Watching legislation develop since this summer and listening closely to women and couples in states where abortion (and related health care) access has been restricted, has made it more clear to me than ever that women’s health care choices during pregnancy are too vital, personal and complex to be taken away from them by legislators sitting in capitol buildings.

Anti-abortion laws also seem to limit women from having full access to essential health care options for various pregnancy-related crises and complications that never seem to be accounted for in legislation. These laws also block health care practitioners from being able to provide the care that is most appropriate to every situation, a professional ethical obligation for all such professionals.

And this is not even to begin the conversation about freedom of conscience and religion, which already is in the process of being trampled in many states as a particular kind of religious vision about abortion is imposed on every citizen. Whatever one’s feelings about the morality of abortion, these are fundamental considerations related to public policy.

Agree with me or not on this matter, at the political level these existentially profound considerations are leading to active political mobilization at this moment and help to account for the surprising outcomes in various elections yesterday.

Heather Cox Richardson, "Letters from an American, November 10, 2022": 

Apparently stung [by claims in right-wing media that Trump caused a predicted GOP "red wave" to subside in this election], Trump unleashed a furious rant on Truth Social, claiming credit for DeSantis’s start in politics. It included an astonishing claim: “I was all in for Ron, and he beat Gillum, but after the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott, I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen….” 

This is an apparent reference to the 2018 election that put DeSantis in the governor’s chair rather than his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum. The race was very close: just 32,463 votes out of 9 million cast, about 0.4%, separated the two candidates. Considering what we now know about Trump’s approach to election results, a claim to having rigged the 2018 Florida election was one heck of a statement. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo noted that even though Trump “is a pathological liar… this requires some explanation, if only a clear and definitive confirmation that this did not happen.”

Aaron Rupar, "Trump's terrible week, explained": 

Trump upped the ante by publishing a string of Truth Social posts savaging DeSantis. Notably, in one of the posts, Trump seemed to brag about using his power as president to rig the 2018 gubernatorial election in DeSantis’s favor — which, if true, seems like a pretty big deal.)*

Tim Miller, "If Mitch McConnell Is Still in the Minority It’s His Own Damn Fault":  

McConnell and the DC strategist class humored Trump, lost both races in Georgia anyway, and then watched as our Capitol was sacked and the police who protect them were mauled by Trump supporters who weren’t in on their joke.

Needless to say, this was the worst strategic decision by any political party in any of our lifetimes. And it’s all on McConnell.

*Rupar's passage is italicized in original.

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