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Democrats raise women’s rights as midterm concerns

Polling shows that while the majority of Americans support access to legal abortions, women’s issues trail behind inflation as a key issue ahead of November.



President Joe Biden addressed the nation just hours after the Supreme Court overturned federal protections for abortion in June, saying emphatically: “Roe is on the ballot this November.”

Democratic Party leaders have focused on that message ahead of the midterm elections, when Biden’s approval rating among his own supporters fell to 36% in July, according to a CNBC poll.

But now that Roe has been overturned, the right to an abortion and the health of women are at the top of the voter’s priority list, giving Democrats a fighting chance in November’s key state elections.

This year’s election will be decided by 22 percent of voters citing abortion or women’s rights as their top priority issue. This is nearly three times as many voters as said in the same poll conducted in December 2021, which was conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago (AP-NORC).


One week before the ruling was announced, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 25% of women voters aged 18 to 49 said they would only support a candidate who wants to protect abortion access in the fall election.

There is a simple formula for gender politics in an election year, according to one expert.

“In general, the strategy for Democrats in a tight year is to win women by more than you lose men by,” said Celinda Lake, a leading political strategist in the DNC.

The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) says that women have been more likely to vote for Democrats since the 1980s, including in midterm elections. Women will hold a 68.4 percent to 65 percent advantage over men in 2020.


Abortion access, despite increased attention to women’s health, still falls behind other voter issues as the midterm elections approach. Abortion and women’s rights were ranked as the country’s sixth-worst problem by a poll conducted by the New York Times and Siena College in early July, after the economy, inflation, and gun control policies.

While the DNC may not be able to count on the support of female voters, Lake tells Newsweek that women’s market baskets are affected by inflation in a different way than men’s. When it comes to rising healthcare, grocery, and education costs, women are more likely than men to look for Democratic support this fall.

If the government doesn’t do anything bad to you, men consider it a good day. “At some point, women believe that they and their families might benefit from a social safety net. Many men believe they can take care of their families by themselves.”

“That’s where Democrats have the biggest advantage when it comes to combating inflation,” Lake added.


Health insurance and other forms of assistance for the poor will continue to be more popular among women than men in 2020, according to the CAWP. Gun control is also more popular among women than men, with a margin of 55.6 percent versus 43.6 percent, giving Democrats yet another issue on which to run for re-election in November.

CAWP researcher Kelly Dittmar told Newsweek that racial and ideological differences among women present a different challenge for Democrats to mobilize voters on abortion rights. Only 23.6 percent of Republican women in the 2020 CAWP study agreed with the statement that abortion was always a personal choice, compared to 72.2 percent of Democratic women.

What both political parties have learned in thinking about how to best mobilize women voters: “Women voters are far from monolithic, which is something that both political parties have had to learn,” Dittmar said to Newsweek.

According to the Pew Research Center, Donald Trump was able to close the gender gap in the upcoming 2020 presidential election by winning over more female voters. While Joe Biden had an 11-point advantage among white women in the 2016 election, Trump’s favorability among them rose from 39% in 2016 to 44% in the 2020 election, where Republicans had a 7-point advantage.


The Republican Party’s forward momentum appears unaffected by the abortion debate. Even after a leaked draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, a CNN analysis found that Republicans were doing 13 points better among women in the weeks leading up to the 2022 primaries than the last midterm elections in 2018.

It’s critical that Democrats continue to focus on women’s diverse needs and demands, including racial and ethnic diversity, class differences, and ideological differences, according to Dittmar, who spoke to Newsweek about the issue.

Even “swing suburban women,” according to political strategist Lake, believe that Republican-led states’ strict restrictions on abortion are “disqualifying” because of the stark partisan divide on the issue.

‘You want to ban some birth control, question women who have miscarriages, you want to arrest women and jail doctors and nurses,’ Lake stated. This is a deal-breaker for me, because you’ve gone too far.


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