DeSantis, Donald Trump’s leading rival in the Republican presidential race, has said he will sign the bill. Once he does — and if North Carolina Republicans act — abortion will be largely illegal across the South. All this will guarantee that the title will become a defining point in the 2024 campaign.
“This is obviously a bad issue for Republicans,” said Sarah Longwell, a moderate Republican strategist who has conducted extensive focus groups with Republican voters.
Republicans now know the politics of abortion in office-ro v. Wade The era was unfavorable for them. They’ve seen the stunning defeat of anti-abortion action in heavily Republican Kansas last year, and the red tide has continued in less midterms than midterms.
On the abortion issue, “we’re 100 percent adverse,” said Mark Krall, a Republican strategist in Wisconsin who in 2004 served on George W. Oversaw Bush’s campaign in the state.
But as Donald Trump says the party has gone too far with abortion restrictions, there’s little willingness in the broader GOP to back down. Public opinion generally supports abortion rights, including many Republicans and even Republican-leaning independents. In most cases it states that the practice must be legal. But among activists — including many Republicans who have worked to overturn for decades Ro — the issue remains a litmus test that features prominently in GOP primaries. The 15-week bans that seemed extraordinarily aggressive a year ago are now considered quasi-measures.
“Mostly [state] “Representatives are in safe seats, so they’re more concerned about primaries where social issues are underpinned,” said former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year. “They don’t really care about the people running across the state.”
“It’s a very selfish game,” he added.
If Wisconsin is any indication, it could also spell major doom for the GOP. In that swing Tuesday, liberals upended the Supreme Court’s ideological balance with Janet Protasiewicz’s narrow victory over conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Don Kelly.
Abortion is not the whole story. Money and candidate quality may be more important, Krall said. But it was a big part — in a state with controversial, 19th-century abortion bans on the books, and Protasiewicz campaigned heavily on abortion rights.
Some Republicans are already sounding the alarm as they look ahead to 2024.
Earlier this week, John Schweppe, policy director of the American Principles Project, a conservative think tank, said: warned on Twitter “Republicans need to figure out the abortion issue soon. We’re getting killed by Indy voters who think we support total bans with no exceptions.
He urged them to “suck it up” and unite behind Chen. Lindsay Grahams Proposed a 15-week abortion ban, hoping to blunt Democrats’ criticism of the more restrictive measures.
“I want to ban abortion,” Schweppe said in an interview Thursday. “It’s a long-term goal. I think almost every pro-lifer would say that. Hopefully murder. But you know, you’re not going to get there overnight, and you’re not going to get there by doing something against the will of the American people.
He added: “If the pro-life movement doesn’t come together, eventually, Republicans are going to say, ‘Well, we’re going to get elected, and the pro-life movement is a liability.’
Longwell’s focus groups bear that out. Abortion, he said, is the number one example voters bring up when explaining why they take a candidate “seriously.” With Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020 and the midterms looming large, the position is at stake in the general election.
“The gap between what the core voters are asking for — pro-abortion, disenfranchisement, loyalty to Trump — and what voters are swinging has gotten very wide,” Longwell said. “You’ve always had to do a general election center, but it becomes a massive leap from a center.”
For Democrats, it’s becoming an ongoing political gift — one they’ll use to attack Republicans through 2024.
Citing Wisconsin’s experience as “a dream that Republicans want to have all over the country,” state Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wigler said “its political impact represents a tectonic shift.”