Last week, this newsletter noted that Democrats across the ideological spectrum — from James Carville to Bernie Sanders — are worrying that the party is focusing too much on the issue of abortion. But not all Democrats appear to share those concerns. Take, for example, President Biden.
On Tuesday, 21 days before Election Day, Biden doubled down on the abortion campaign theme at a speech devoted to the issue at the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C. Biden promised the first bill he would sign in the next Congress (if Democrats have the votes) would be legislation to codify Roe as a federal statute. In reality, the Democrats’ federal abortion bill would require all 50 states to allow abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and it would go beyond the radicalism of Roe by overriding religious-liberty and conscience protections, parental-notification laws, and 24-hour waiting limits. It would also likely require unlimited taxpayer funding of elective abortions for Medicaid recipients.
Biden’s abortion speech at the DNC came just one day after a fresh New York Times/Siena poll — showing Republicans leading Democrats 49 percent to 45 percent on the generic ballot — found that only 5 percent of Americans say abortion is the most important issue. That’s the exact same share who identified abortion as the top issue in September’s Siena poll. Tens of millions of dollars in Democratic campaign ads on that issue haven’t made that number budge.
By contrast, 44 percent of voters identified the economy or inflation as the top issue:
From the New York Times’ write-up of the poll:
“It’s all about cost,” said Gerard Lamoureux, a 51-year-old Democratic retiree in Newtown, Conn., who is planning to vote Republican this fall. “The price of gas and groceries are through the roof. And I want to eat healthy, but it’s cheaper for me to go to McDonald’s and get a little meal than it is to cook dinner.”
Mr. Biden has repeatedly tried to put a positive spin on the economy and has noted that inflation is a worldwide problem. “Our economy is strong as hell,” he said Saturday at a stop at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in Portland, Ore.
Voters are telling President Biden that they are having a hard time affording groceries, and Biden is basically replying: Let them eat RU-486.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams almost literally delivered that message on Wednesday:
This message seems unlikely to turn things around for Democrats. The polls could be off in either direction, so the election is far from over, but Republicans have opened a three-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average of generic ballot polls. …
Anger over Dobbs likely energized Democrats in special elections over the summer; and it could — along with poor candidate quality and the prominence of Donald Trump — diminish the size of GOP gains in November. But with less than three weeks to go, the issue of abortion seems unlikely to spare House Democrats from a midterm defeat that was always the most likely outcome, given voters’ disapproval of the incumbent Democratic president and soaring inflation.
In just three weeks, we will find out if abortion really is a top-of-mind issue for voters, as Democrats have claimed. The party has pointed to Democrat Pat Ryan’s win in the special election for New York’s 19th congressional district as evidence that abortion is a top issue. And it may have been in August, when the special election was held, but abortion seems to have faded into the background since then. A Gallup poll last month found that just 4 percent of Americans believe it is the most important problem facing the country today. That’s a drop from 4 percent two months earlier and just a fraction of the 17 percent of Americans who said cost of living/inflation is the top issue in both polls.
As I reported today:
Colin Schmitt, a two-term Republican state assemblyman who is running against Ryan in the newly redrawn 18th congressional district, argues that is simply not true; voters are concerned about inflation and the economy.
“The main issues are economy, public safety, and the border crisis,” Schmitt told National Review. “That is what voters care about. We’ve done over 185,000 voter contacts and the abortion issue has been brought up about six times.”
“People cannot afford to live here,” he said. “They cannot afford the basic necessities. That’s what’s driving the day.”
• Nevada Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto has run as an abortion extremist, but three weeks before the election she’s released a soft-focus biographical ad that shows her sitting in front of a statue of Jesus and a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. John McCormack thinks the ad is a sign Cortez Masto is worried she’s alienated Latino voters with abortion extremism.