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US: Abortion checks ‘red wave’

Democrats tied rights to everyday economics

Lisa Lerer, Elizabeth Dias New York Published 11.11.22, 12:52 AM
People cast their votes at the US midterm elections.

People cast their votes at the US midterm elections. Twitter

For months, the midterm elections appeared to be a clash over rising prices, public safety worries and fears of a looming recession. But another driving issue proved almost as powerful for voters: abortion rights.

In the first major election since the Supreme Court overturned the case that ensured a federal right to an abortion for nearly half a century, abortion rights broke through, lifting Democrats to victory in Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan and New Mexico.


Voters in three states — California, Vermont and highly contested Michigan — decided to protect abortion rights in their state Constitutions.

In a fourth, Kentucky, a conservative bastion and home to Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, voters rejected an amendment saying their Constitution gave no right to an abortion.

For decades, abortion politics worked a certain way, rallying the Republican base and abortion opponents with far more intensity than abortion rights supporters.

Conservative evangelicals and Catholics often voted on abortion, or the future of the Supreme Court, even if it meant compromising other priorities.

But overturning Roe v. Wade appears to have flipped the script.

In the months since the June decision, Democrats seized on the issue, linking abortion to everyday family economics and health care and tapping into voters’ fears about the rise of far-Right Republicans.

They wove the issue into broader Democratic messages that framed the election as a referendum on what they describe as Republicans’“extreme” views, and not on President Biden and Democratic control in Washington.

The full impact of the message remains to seen.

House and Senate races in the West were still unsettled on Wednesday, as vote counting continued, and control of the House and Senate was still hanging in the balance. But the results so far signal the struggle ahead for Republicans, who leave this election divided on an issue that hasbeen a bedrock for the party.

New York Times News Service

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