(The Hill) – Democrats and Republicans are split over how much impact the Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case establishing a right to an abortion, will have on Senate races, but early polling shows it could make a difference in several key states.
Republicans feel confident heading into November that President Biden’s low approval rating will help GOP candidates. But the court’s decision to take away a constitutional right that has existed for 50 years gives Democrats a powerful talking point.
A poll of 800 voters in Senate battleground states conducted on behalf of Demand Justice, a progressive group that favors reforming the Supreme Court, found that Democrats are more focused on the court than Republicans, 69 percent to 60 percent, and liberals are more engaged on the court than conservatives, 73 percent to 63 percent.
The poll, which was conducted by Hart Research Associates from June 7 to June 11, before the ruling overturning Roe, and released Tuesday, showed that 56 percent of voters wanted the court to uphold Roe, while 27 percent wanted to see it overturned.
Here are six battleground states where the Supreme Court’s ruling could tip the scales in November:
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Tuesday launched an advertising campaign in Wisconsin highlighting incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R) record on abortion rights. Recent polling shows he is essentially tied with his Democratic challengers.
Johnson was one of a group of Senate Republicans who signed an amicus brief in July urging the courts to reconsider and overturn Roe, either completely or in part. The second-term senator has come under criticism for saying people should move if they don’t like abortion laws in their state.
Abortions in Wisconsin are outlawed because of an 1849 law that remains on the books and went back into effect because of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said he will grant clemency to anyone charged under the 1849 law.
Even so, clinics in the state suspended abortions on Friday after the ruling, and experts say that the risk of prosecution will put a significant chill on abortion services as patients and doctors could face prosecution down the road after Evers leaves office.
Johnson’s general election opponent won’t be known until after the state primaries on Aug. 9.
Rep. Ted Budd, the Republican nominee for Senate, praised the court’s decision Friday as a “historic victory.”
He also signed the amicus brief urging the courts to review and overturn Roe v. Wade and has praised the “creativity” of a Texas law that bans abortion at six weeks and empowers private citizens to enforce the law.
Budd has called the Texas Heartbeat Act a “monumental step forward in the movement to protect unborn life.”
North Carolina is among the states in the South with the strongest support for abortion rights, and abortion is legal there during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has the power to veto new abortion restrictions from the Republican-controlled legislature.
A Meredith College poll of North Carolina voters conducted in April showed that nearly 53 percent of them wanted to keep abortion legal until the 24th week of pregnancy and 62 percent said it should be allowed at least until the 15th week of pregnancy.
Higher Democratic turnout due to interest in abortion rights could help Senate Democratic candidate Cheri Beasley.
Gov. Tom Wolf (D) pledged at the start of the year to veto the six different anti-abortion bills introduced by Republican members of the general assembly, giving the battle over abortion rights a high profile heading into the November elections.
Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz has campaigned as being 100 percent anti-abortion, but he supports access to abortion in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.
Conservatives in Pennsylvania are also pushing a state constitutional amendment that would ensure the right to abortion is not enshrined in the state constitution, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano introduced a heartbeat bill in the state Senate in 2019 that would ban abortions after six weeks.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for Senate, said in a statement: “The right to an abortion will be on the ballot this November in Pennsylvania.”
Right now abortions are legal in the state up to 24 weeks.
The three leading Republican candidates running to challenge incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D) have supported the court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, giving Democrats ammo in the fall.
Arizona has a law dating back to 1901 banning abortion unless one is needed to save the life of a mother. And Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a law in March banning abortion after 15 weeks, creating some confusion over which law would take precedent.
Pro-abortion rights protesters held rallies in Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson after the court handed down its decision in Dobbs.
Police fired tear gas at protesters outside the fenced-off state Capitol in Phoenix.
A poll by OH Predictive Insights of more than 900 registered Arizona voters in May found that 41 percent said abortion should be legal under any circumstance, 46 percent said it should be legal in certain circumstances and 13 percent said it should be illegal in all circumstances.
Three in 5 Arizona voters said they would be very or somewhat impacted by a candidate’s stance on abortion.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a law in 2019 banning abortion after six weeks, one of the most restrictive in the country.
That law has been on hold while courts waited to see the outcome of the Dobbs case, and now Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R) is pushing for it to take effect
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll conducted in January showed that more than two-thirds of Georgia voters and half of Republican voters opposed striking down Roe.
Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker said in May that he wants to ban abortion without exception.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) voted last month to advance legislation to codify abortion rights.
“We’re basically talking about a ton of races where the contrast is clear. Look at voters in Georgia. Nearly 70 percent of Georgia voters opposed overturning Roe and this is even stronger among Black voters. Eight-seven [percent] of Black voters in Georgia opposed overturning Roe. Seventy-four [percent] are against Georgia’s abortion act,” said Sam Lau, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood Votes.
Senate GOP candidate Adam Laxalt said “Roe v. Wade was always wrongly decided” and called overturning the landmark abortion rights case “a historic victory.”
Abortion rights, however, are strongly protected in Nevada, which codified them in law more than three decades ago.
Nevadans voted for a referendum in 1990 allowing abortions within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
A poll of 770 registered Nevada voters in October found 69 percent lean pro-abortion rights while 31 percent consider themselves anti-abortion.
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