Democrats’ Secret Weapon For 2024: Abortion Votes

Following pro-life victories in red states, Democrats see referenda as a way to boost themselves in 2024.

Written by Anthony Cash

What’s happening: Since abortion-related state votes have gone well for Democrats since last year’s elections — even in red states such as Kansas and Ohio — Democrats are racing to add the issue to the 2024 ballot in an effort to boost candidates in key states.

Why it matters: President Biden faces low approval ratings and is polling about even with Trump in a 2024 rematch. Democrats believe that the abortion issue will boost Biden by increasing turnout among their base while dividing Republicans.

  • Moving forward: Democrats are nearing the required amount of signatures to put a constitutional right to abortion on the ballot in competitive Arizona. This referendum could potentially boost Biden and state-level Democrats.

  • Flashback: There is precedent for this strategy. After Massachusetts legalized then-unpopular gay marriage in 2004, Republicans put counter-proposals on the ballot in 11 states, boosting President George W. Bush in swing states such as Ohio.

What’s next? Republicans have formed three major strategies to limit losses after the Supreme Court gave abortion politics back to the states.

  • Distract: Some, such as Rep. Michael Lawler (R-New York), want to shift focus away from abortion and toward Democrats’ failures on crime and the economy. The strategy worked well in deep-blue New York in 2022, but while crime is still a serious issue, it’s not quite as bad as it was before. Same with the economy.

  • Tackle head-on: Pro-life groups such as the Susan B. Anthony Foundation blame Republicans for “hiding” on the abortion issue. The organization says that Republicans should “go on offense with an affirmative pro-life message” because Democrats will “wrongfully paint them as extreme” otherwise.

  • Get it off the ballot: Analyst Ryan Girdusky argues that 6-week abortion bans are as unpopular with the public as defunding the police. For now, Democrats have the upper hand in terms of public sentiment, so making sure abortion isn’t on the ballot is likely the strongest play.