Opinion: Democrats hope for boost from abortion fight

One of the biggest wild cards in the November elections is the impact of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion.

Democrats believe the ruling — which overturned the Roe v. Wade decision — will drive more women to the polls, to the detriment of the GOP.

There is some evidence to support that – including the unexpected defeat this summer of an anti-abortion ballot measure in Kansas, a state which gave Donald Trump a 15 percent win in 2020.

But what about in Georgia?

The political data firm TargetSmart — which does work on the Democratic side — reviewed requests for mail ballots in Georgia, and drew out some signs that could be good for Democrats.

At this point, likely Democratic voters have requested 62 percent of mail-in ballots in Georgia, which compares to about 48 percent at the same point in 2020.

Maybe the more intriguing number is that more than 60 percent of the mail ballot requests in Georgia are from women.

“Women have a better opportunity to impact the electorate and outcome of the election in Georgia than probably any other state,” said Tom Bonier, the head of TargetSmart.

In Congress this week, we saw Republicans playing defense on abortion, as U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., surprised his own party by unveiling a national ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

It was a reminder that Republicans aren’t unified at the state or federal level on abortion — just witness the ongoing GOP struggle in South Carolina’s legislature on the details of a new state abortion law.

GOP leaders didn’t seem thrilled with Graham’s gambit.

“I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell curtly told reporters.

Meanwhile, the proposal galvanized Democrats, who roundly attacked it.

“Lindsey Graham’s abortion ban is just one part of Congressional Republicans’ all-out assault on women,” said U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta.

In Georgia’s Senate race, Republican Herschel Walker had a different take.

“There’s not a national ban on abortion right now, and I think that’s a problem,” Walker said.

But since the Supreme Court ruling, abortion has not been a GOP campaign focus, as Republicans talk more about inflation and the economy, which tells you where the GOP sees its strongest argument for November.

“The stock market is cratering and inflation is through the roof,” said U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro.

Which concern gets more voters to the polls? Pocketbook issues or a dramatic change on abortion?

The answer will probably tell us which party wins control of Congress.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com