Democrats Were Idiots to Run on Abortion - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Democrats Were Idiots to Run on Abortion
Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (MSNBC/YouTube)

The realization is dawning on Democrats that they made a terrible error in their campaign messaging.

After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overruled Roe v. Wade this June, Democratic operatives were angry. They assumed voters would feel the same way, so they poured cash into campaigning on support for abortion.

This was not a small investment. Democrats threw so much money at the issue — a full third of their ad budgets — that if their message of abortion on demand failed to land with voters, a critical portion of their campaign budgets would be squandered. The Associated Press reported in September that Democrats had spent $124 million this cycle on abortion-related TV advertising, which was almost 20 times the amount the party spent on the issue in 2018.

Abortion was Democrats’ No. 1 focus in paid advertisements. The party spent half as much as it did on abortion on its second-biggest issue: “character.”

In assessing this massive spending, Politico wrote on Oct. 3, “Democrats stake their House majority on abortion.” The authors wrote, “[T]here’s almost no place where Democrats think an abortion rights-focused message won’t play — and they are betting their House majority on it.”

Making pro-abortion activism their top issue was a huge risk for Democrats. Voters have traditionally cared much more about bread-and-butter issues like the economy and have expressed less interest in using their vote to further the termination of pregnancies.

Democrats were encouraged in spending heavily on abortion-related campaigning because money had poured into their coffers immediately after the Dobbs ruling. ActBlue, the Democrats’ donation platform, reported $80 million in donations in the first week after the Dobbs ruling. In the second quarter — which included the period in which the Dobbs draft opinion leaked — the Democratic Attorneys General Association reported a 70 percent increase in funding while the Republican Attorneys General Association reported a 7 percent increase.

But polling should have alerted Democrats that they were making a terrible mistake.

When voters were polled just after the Dobbs ruling on the biggest concern facing their family by Monmouth University, 5 percent said abortion. This was a fivefold increase over the prior eight years of polling. Still, abortion’s importance in the minds of voters was dwarfed by the economy. Thirty-three percent of voters said inflation was their top concern, 15 percent said gas prices, 9 percent said the economy, and 6 percent said everyday bills. Abortion was the fifth-most-named issue.

Democrats swore off this poll and others like it, assuming that their cash inflows surrounding the Dobbs decision demonstrated a passion that would translate to blue votes in the voting booth.

In doing so, Democrats ignored the fact that enthusiasm for “abortion rights” is concentrated among die-hard lefties of the sort who make campaign contributions and run campaigns, while regular left-leaning and independent voters rarely prioritize abortion, which most of them have no plans to personally make use of.

For example, on Oct. 17, the New York Times quoted a Democratic voter, Robin Ackerman, who said that she disagreed “1,000 percent” with the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. She said, however: “But that doesn’t really have a lot to do with my decision [on voting]…. I’m more worried about other things.”

Even Americans who do identify as pro-choice frequently have a certain queasiness over abortion or have significant moral qualms about it. In fact, the vast majority of Americans are opposed to abortion, at least in certain cases. According to a March 2022 Pew Research Center poll, only 19 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all instances. In other words, 81 percent of Americans are not on board with the abortion-on-demand messaging that the Democratic Party is blasting over the airwaves.

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, panic is now setting in.

On Thursday, Democratic strategists in Florida told Politico that they were regretting their decision to go all in on a pro-abortion message.

“Democrats are signaling that key races are slipping away from them,” reported Matt Dixon and Gary Fineout. “They point to ominous signs and missed opportunities, including the party’s message on abortion rights and gun control that isn’t resonating.”

With 8.2 percent year-over-year inflation battering Americans — and Democrats talking past the issue — Republicans have been able to gain the upper hand on the economy. A CNBC poll released last week found that Republicans have a double-digit lead over Democrats on “bringing down inflation,” “dealing with taxes,” “reducing [federal] deficit,” and “creating jobs.”

Democrats are scrambling to correct and are making a last-ditch effort to convince that they are the party that can improve the economy.

On Wednesday, Axios reported, “In a Hail Mary bid to dent Republican credibility on the economy, Democrats are escalating attacks related to Social Security and Medicare in a final midterm stretch dominated by signs of a growing red wave.”

Axios reported that President Joe Biden employed this new, belated messaging shift by using the phrase “Social Security and Medicare” 11 times at a Democratic National Committee event on Monday.

Democrats are realizing that the huge amounts of time and money that they’ve put into abortion spending may not pay off. But, with Republicans rising in the polls and the parties’ chances to control the Senate at parity, Democrats’ sudden switch from promoting abortion to emphasizing economic policies may have come too late.

Ellie Gardey
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Ellie Gardey is Reporter and Associate Editor at The American Spectator. Follow her on Twitter @EllieGardey.
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