May 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Men dominate GOP messaging over abortion

Data: Quorum; Table: Thomas Oide/Axios

The Republicans in Congress who most used the word “abortion” in social media posts and press releases recently were all men except one, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, according to data compiled by Quorum.

Why it matters: Both parties are engaged in a messaging war over the hot-button issue, after the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Politicians are scrambling to strike the right tone with voters just six months from the 2022 midterms.

  • Among the 10 Democrats who used the term "abortion" the most between May 2 and May 12, all are women but three: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Sean Casten (D-Ill.).

The big picture: Democrats and Republicans are studying the midterm map to gauge in which races the anticipated reversal of Roe would cause the greatest disruption.

  • While they don’t agree, strategists and elected officials on both sides of the aisle have been crafting and sharing talking points across their parties.
  • The Senate Republicans' campaign arm has been circulating a three-page memo, obtained by Axios’ Alayna Treene, with guidance about how candidates and lawmakers can boost their messaging with voters.

Between the lines: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) — who's opened up about her own abortion story — mentioned "abortion" over 80 times during the period under review.

  • Ditto Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who's talked publicly about getting an abortion at 16 — which she labeled "a back-alley abortion in Mexico."
  • The Republican who used the term the most, Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), said it about half as many times as Jayapal.

Go deeper: More House Democrats used the word than their Senate colleagues, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) grabbed center stage the week of the leak.

She's since become her party's main voice on the issue.

  • Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both of Texas, have joined Blackburn in mentioning the issue more than their other colleagues.
  • Texas has been ground zero for abortion politics ever since its restrictive law went into effect on Sept. 1.
  • It prohibits nearly all abortions, including in cases of rape or incest, at the moment an embryonic heartbeat is detected.
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