Republican congresswoman acknowledges party’s abortion stance turned off midterm voters

Republicans had introduced national abortion ban with just weeks to go before election

John Bowden
Washington DC
Monday 23 January 2023 07:48 GMT
GOP congresswoman says abortion hurt Republicans in the midterms

A Republican congresswoman is acknowledging what analysts and especially pro-choice activists have known for months: Abortion rights, and the GOP’s opposition to them, hurt her party in November’s midterm elections.

Nancy Mace made the admission on Sunday, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press. She explained that after the fall of Roe vs Wade last year, protecting the right to seek an abortion was a top electoral priority for many Americans, both women and men, heading in to November.

“We should have had a dozen or two-dozen seat majority this legislative session, but we don't because this is one of the issues that was top of mind for swing voters,” Ms Mace contended to NBC.

It was a point-blank rebuke that was significant given that her home state senator, Lindsey Graham, was the champion leading the charge for a national abortion ban after the fall of Roe.

Mr Graham introduced legislation that would have instituted a national 15-week ban in September, just two months before voters hit the polls in states across the country. It amounted to little more than a nod to anti-abortion activists who were hoping to press their luck after the Supreme Court’s decision while acting as a body blow to vulnerable Republican candidates in suburban swing districts.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to tamp down on fears of the legislation being supported by a majority of GOP senators, but the damage was already done. In a number of states, pro-abortion ballot measures won and overperformed victorious Democratic candidates, suggesting that the issue was a significant draw to the polls for many voters.

While Republicans were late to get the message – and were even predicting a so-called “Red Wave” on the morning of the final day of voting – pro-choice activists who spoke to The Independent last year ahead of the midterm elections were confident that the issue had the potential to stop the GOP’s electoral momentum dead in its tracks, a prediction which bore out when Republicans failed to capture the Senate and barely eked out a single-digit majority in the House.

“Many pundits, for whatever reason, did not realise that when... people say that they’re worried about the economy, that means they’re worried about access to affordable childcare, fair pay, to paid family medical leave, and to abortion care,” Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO of MomsRising, told The Independent last year in an interview while discussing issue-based polling ahead of the votes.

“The abortion issue is a key economic issue. And so when you combine not having a care infrastructure and lack of access to abortion care, you have an incredibly motivated constituency,” she added.

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