Aug 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Democrats double down on abortion message after Ohio vote

Illustration of an arm with a megaphone appearing out of a hole in the shape of a red cross

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

National Democratic operatives are looking to the decisive defeat of Ohio's Issue 1 this week as a green light for abortion-focused message going into the 2024 campaign.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade resulted in a burst of grassroots energy that many Democrats credit for their better-than-expected midterm showing.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, voters in the increasingly Republican-leaning state voted by a decisive margin against raising the threshold for amending the state's Constitution.

  • The measure would have made it more difficult for a state constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights to pass.

What we're hearing: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is circulating a memo, first obtained by Axios, noting that the measure was rejected by large majorities in "competitive House districts across the state[.]"

  • The memo argues that the end of Roe is "still a major motivating factor even after the [2022] midterms," pointing also to Democratic over-performances in special elections this year.
  • "It is crucial that Democrats remind voters early and often that ... MAGA Republicans are focusing their power on advocating for dangerous and unpopular abortion bans," it says.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Tommy Garcia echoed the memo in a statement to Axios.

  • “Ohio's special election is the latest confirmation that the GOP's toxic agenda on abortion will lead their Senate campaigns to defeat,” he said.

The other side: "If [Ohio Democratic Sen.] Sherrod Brown wants to run on his support for child gender reassignment surgery and painful abortions up to the moment of birth, we'll welcome that," Phillip Letsou, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Axios.

What we're watching: The 2024 congressional elections could coincide not only with the presidential election, but abortion-focused ballot measures in states across the country.

  • Democrats plan to spend more than $20 million to pass a sweeping equal rights measure in New York, where House Republicans are defending roughly a half dozen highly competitive seats.
  • Abortion measures could also be on the ballot in other key states in the presidential and congressional elections, including Arizona, Nebraska, Florida and Iowa.
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