Polling shows overturning Roe shakes up midterms for shocked voters

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling against reproductive rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — overturning the 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade — is bad news for the Republican Party and for the conservative majority on the high court.

For every action, there is a reaction. The court’s revocation of a constitutional right that women have had for half a century sent shockwaves through the system.

A national poll conducted after the official release of the decision for The PBS News Hour and National Public Radio by Marist University demonstrated the degree of damage to the court and the GOP. Most Americans disapprove of the high court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Almost half of the public strongly disapproves of the verdict.

The public hostility to the ruling has put a dent in GOP prospects for the midterms.

It is hardly a surprise that just about every Democrat opposes the decision, while four of every five Republicans support it. But the key finding is that most independents — who are the swing voters in elections — disapprove of the high court’s verdict.

What is even more telling is the effect that the case could have on turnout in November. Up until now, Democratic enthusiasm for voting in the midterms lagged compared to interest among GOP voters. But Democratic voters are far more likely than Republicans to indicate the Dobbs decision will drive them to the polls in November.

Women want a choice, and this gives Democrats a chance to win the midterms. Women are 18 points more likely to support a “pro-choice” congressional candidate than an “anti-abortion” candidate. Three out of every four suburban women say they worry that the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe could lead it to block other legal rights like contraception.

In the wake of the decision, Democrats have a 7-point advantage in the national generic congressional trial heat. This is a 10-point swing from April when the GOP had a three-point edge. The big swing toward Democrats in the last few months is a crystal-clear indicator of how volatile the political climate is four months before the midterms.

Political pundits have written off Democratic chances of retaining control of Congress. But the shock waves from the Dobbs case — as well as the new revelations from the House investigation of former President Trump’s behavior leading up to and during the failed Jan. 6 Capitol coup attempt — could blunt GOP prospects in November. The mixture of outrage over Trump’s encouragement of the attackon the Capitol and the court’s decision to gut reproductive rights could be too much for voters at the ballot box this fall.

To regain their momentum in the midterms and to counter the political damage from rising inflation as well as President Biden’s problematic approval rating, Democrats must put Republicans on the defensive.

They should aggressively press their advantage from the reversal of Roe. This strategy means pressing GOP candidates on their reaction to the loss of reproductive rights for women and holding Republican officials responsible for the care for the health and well-being of young children.

Democratic candidates should put their GOP counterparts on the spot and ask them whether they support former Vice President Mike Pence’s proposal for a national abortion ban. Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, predicts that Senate Republicans will abolish the filibuster rule if they gain control of Congress to pass a national abortion ban.

The political damage extends to the Supreme Court. The six justices appointed by Republican presidents all supported the decision.

By a 57 percent-to-36 percent margin Americans believe the Dobbs decision was based on politics instead of the law.Back in 2019, six out of every 10 people had confidence in the Supreme Court. Now only four in 10 do.

The lack of public confidence in Supreme Court could encourage “pro-choice” proponents of abortion rights voters and public officials to minimize the impact that Roe’s reversal will have on women. Several Democratic governors have already offered help to women who cannot receive safe and legal abortions in their home states.

The Supreme Court has rolled back decades of progress for women’s rights. The dust is still settling from the disastrous decision, but the early returns prove what many already knew. The reversal of Roe is a cross that women will need to bear and a be a thorn in the side of the GOP.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon

Tags Brad Bannon Democrats GOP midterms Polling polls Republicans SCOTUS Supreme Court Trump

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