Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Republicans Are Losing Ground on Abortion

Fox's "news" operation is suspect, but their polling is OK because it is done by Beacon (D) and Shaw (R) working together. And certainly it's not skewed in the Democrats' favor. So, it's fair to take seriously the new Fox poll that says 59% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 65% favor a law guaranteeing access to abortion nationwide and 68% think access to mifepristone and other abortifacients should be legal. These numbers are all up 15-20 points from April 2022.

This is not good news for the Republican Party, and the crosstabs make it worse. In essence, the sky-high support for abortion among Democrats (90%+) is balanced out by the lukewarm support among Republicans (mid-40s or so). However, independents favor these various abortion-related questions in almost exactly the same percentages as the topline numbers. In other words, for every three independent voters who conclude abortion is their decisive issue, two are on the side of the Democrats. This is not good for the GOP, and in particular for its presidential candidate, who cannot win without a big chunk of independent votes.

Meanwhile, the Republican response to this particular problem has certainly been interesting to watch. The predominant strategy appears to be "all in." In other words, Republican strategists and operatives seem to have concluded that there's no actual middle ground here, and all they can really do is get the base really, really fired up, in hopes that they will show up to the polls in droves in November. So, for example, as law school professors Reva Siegel (Yale) and Mary Ziegler (UC Davis), writing for Slate, point out, anti-choice forces are becoming much more open about expressing their desire for a nationwide ban of all abortions in all cases. Or, to take another example, the South Carolina legislature is considering a bill that would require insurance companies to make life insurance available to embryos.

There are some Republicans who still think it's possible to thread the needle here. For example, Patrick T. Brown is one of CNN's resident "reasonable conservatives." He's actually extremely partisan, but the shtick is that he's fair-minded. Anyhow, he just wrote an op-ed that argues, in effect, that the Republican position on abortion would be more attractive if Republican politicians just did a better job of explaining their views to voters. Uh, huh.

As a purely tactical matter, we think the all-in Republicans have the right of it. That is to say, no matter what Brown and others of his ilk think, there is no middle path here, and there are no words that can convince people who think abortion should be legal that it's not so bad to make it illegal. So, if you're going to hitch your political party to a very unpopular position (see the poll results above), then you really better do everything you can to get the minority that agrees with you to the polls. (Z)

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