Jun 11, 2019

The 2020 abortion messaging wars

Sen. Chuck Schumer at an abortion ban protest at the Supreme Court last month. Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Voters are hearing a lot about abortion bans happening around the country, putting the heat on President Trump and 2020 Democrats to get their campaign messaging right.

Driving the news: 89% of voters have heard "some" or "a lot" about the abortion bans in the past few weeks, according to a new national poll from the Navigator Research project shared exclusively with Axios.

  • A group of eight swing voters in Erie, Pa. — who supported President Obama and then Trump — said last week during an Engagious/FPG focus group that they had heard a lot of news lately about abortion.
  • And they support the moves to enact strict new restrictions on abortion.

Between the lines: None of these swing voters said the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade or any new abortion bans around the country would make them any less likely to support Trump in 2020.

  • Instead, a few of our participants said they may actually make them slightly more likely, on average, to support Trump.

Why it matters: That means Democrats running against the president will have to figure out the right messaging on abortion to not only be bold enough to win over progressives, but also not scare away voters who might feel similar to our Erie focus group respondents.

The findings from the Navigator Research project — which is a group of top Democratic pollsters and progressive leaders — suggest Democrats should talk about it in this way:

  • The abortion bans "take away women's rights and freedoms." That's based on 67% of people who said in the poll that the abortion bans are doing just that.
  • "Anti-women," "government overreach," and "oppressive" were the three most popular choices when respondents were asked to select phrases that describe the abortion bans seen around the country.
  • 45% of "people who are personally against abortion but do not think government should prevent women from making that decision," per the group's memo, selected "government overreach" as the most accurate descriptor of these bans.

The bottom line: Abortion is gaining more attention among voters than even the ongoing debate about whether to impeach Trump, his ongoing trade wars, or House Democrats' congressional investigations.

Go deeper: Pennsylvania swing voters aren't ditching Trump in 2020

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