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Will Abortion Save the Democrats in 2024?

In 2004, Bush's Brain, Karl Rove, managed to get ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage approved in many states. Some people credit the initiative in boosting turnout in Ohio in 2004 and thus getting Bush over the top. However, at least one other study suggests that turnout in states with ballot initiatives was not higher than in states without them.

Will ballot measures on abortion goose Democratic turnout in 2024? It is not clear. However, one difference with 2004 is that the same-sex initiatives were intended to get older white voters to the polls. These are voters who don't really need much encouragement to vote. They do it pretty reliably on their own. The abortion measures are aimed at young voters and voters of color, neither of which have such strong track records on turnout. Consequently, abortion measures might actually help the Democrats.

The recent Virginia elections may shed some light on whether abortion helps Democrats. In a suburban Richmond district with a Republican incumbent who promoted a 15-week ban, the Democrat attacked him as an extremist and won. In a suburban district in Loudoun County, a Democrat who flogged abortion knocked off a Republican incumbent who didn't discuss it at all. The message might be that if Democrats hit hard on abortion, it can not only sink Republicans who want to ban it, but even those who are scared to talk about it.

Pro-choice groups are currently trying to get abortion measures on the 2024 ballot in five states, as follows.

At this point we don't know if any amendments will make the ballot, but experience from other states shows that if there is enough funding, some of them are likely to make it. (V)

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