When the Supreme Court handed down its Dobbs ruling in June, speculation ran wild as to whether, or to what extent, the overturning of Roe v. Wade would redound to the GOP’s detriment in the midterms. In fact, such speculation was widespread even before the decision, thanks to the leaking of Justice Alito’s draft opinion in early May.
It was reasonable to believe that the Dobbs decision would boost turnout among Democratic voters, thereby overcoming what is often a problem for the in-power party in midterms. And it was reasonable to believe that the decision would help Democrats maintain the support of suburban women.
But it was also reasonable to doubt question whether these boosts would offset what looked a Red Wave, spurred by discontent with Joe Biden and the economy.
Either way, Dobbs was a wild card in the election — right up there with the price of gas.
As the election season progressed, the mainstream media maintained that, indeed, Dobbs was boosting the Democrats. It cited the results of a small number of special elections to support this narrative which, to repeat, was a plausible one.
But now, the Washington Post (of all organs) presents analysis showing that the group most enthusiastic about voting in November isn’t women riled up about Dobbs, but rather Republican men. Ed Morrissey (via David Strom) reports on the Post’s analysis.
That analysis is based in part on polling by YouGov and in part on an examination of post-Dobbs voter registration. As to the latter, the Post’s Phillip Bump says:
Our data shows a blurry picture: increases in states such as Pennsylvania, but not in places like New Mexico. The increase in Pennsylvania, meanwhile, didn’t occur solely post-Dobbs. There was a period in February, for example, when women made up a similarly disproportionate percentage of new registrants. Maine is another state where women have seen a surge among new registrants recently. The Post can confirm this post-Dobbs increase, but the state has also seen similar surges of women making up to 65 percent of new registrants in the past two years, well before the court decision.
On the polling front:
There’s. . .no question that Democrats have seen improved polling since Dobbs. . . That’s thanks to increases in support from both women and men in recent weeks.
Democrats had about the same level of support from women earlier this year as they do now. If we pick out three months — January, April and July — we can see that average support among women dropped in April before rebounding.
On the question of enthusiasm Bump reports:
Data provided to The Washington Post by the polling firm YouGov indicate that the group that reports the most enthusiasm about voting is the polar opposite of what many expect: Republican men. And that this enthusiasm has grown. . . .
YouGov polls weekly, so I’ve included a three-week rolling average from late April — shortly before a draft of the Dobbs decision was published by Politico — until the most recent poll at the end of August. . . .
Democratic women reported more enthusiasm after the [Dobbs] decision was released in late June, continuing an upward trend. But Democratic men expressed a much bigger surge in enthusiasm — one that was fairly short-lived.
Republican women, meanwhile, didn’t change their reported enthusiasm much following Dobbs. But more than half of Republican men now consistently report being more enthusiastic than in other years to vote in November. They’re the only group above that mark. Their reported enthusiasm has also been trending upward.
The patterns are more clear if we look at four-week groups of reported enthusiasm. If we consider the four polls before Dobbs, the four immediately after and the four most recent, you see that enthusiasm is pretty flat among independents and Republican women. For Republican men, their already-high level of enthusiasm ticked upward. For Democratic men and women, enthusiasm increased quite a bit post-Dobbs and then waned.
This polling tends to confirm Ed Morrissey’s take back in June on the likely political impact of Dobbs. He argued that because most Americans don’t live and breathe abortion every day of their lives, but do breathe issues like the economy and crime every day, Dobbs won’t be much of a factor in November.
Ed sees confirmation of this in recent “generic” polling of the race to control the House — polling that surveys “likely voters.” He cites the following August/September results:
- Insider Advantage: D+1 (500 respondents)
- Rasmussen: R+5
- Trafalgar: R+6
- CBS News: R+2
Normally, Democrats need an edge of several points in the polls just to break even in the House on election day. Thus, the polls cited above are excellent news for the GOP. However, two other recent polls in the RCP collection, including one by YouGov, have the Dems up by 4-6 points.
Like Ed, I’m encouraged by the Post’s report on voter enthusiasm. However, I’m still taking a wait-and-see approach to the midterms. And keeping an eye on that other wildcard, the price of gas.
I would think that anyone for whom abortion rights is a key issue already votes for Democrats.
Speaking of polls, Sarah Weaver:
A new Axios-Ipsos poll released Monday challenged the Democrat narrative that Republicans are out of step with the rest of Americans when it comes to democratic norms.
The poll surveyed a sample of 1,001 American adults and was conducted online between September 1 and 2, 2022. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
Among all Americans surveyed, 35% believed Presidents should be able to remove judges whose decisions “go against the national interest.” Along party lines, 42% of Democrats agreed with this ideas against only 29% of Republicans.
Nearly a third of total Americans prefer strong unelected leaders to weak elected ones. This was a view held by 42% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats.
The percent of Republicans and Democrats who believed that the government should side with the majority over religious or ethnic minority rights was almost identical — 38% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans.
The poll’s findings come more than a week after President Joe Biden gave a speech, which a number of prominent Democrats praised, saying that Republicans “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
“They fan the flames of political violence,” Biden said.
A poll conducted shortly after Biden’s speech found that a majority of Americans thought Biden engaged in dangerous rhetoric “designed to incite conflict amongst Americans.”
This goes to show that “extremist” means “you don’t agree with me,” in the same way that “unity” and “surrender” are political synonyms.