Nov 15, 2023 - News

Abortion ballot measures could boost Democrats in Arizona and other states

Data: Cook Political Report; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Arizona is one of several states where proposed abortion rights measures on next year's ballot could boost Democrats' 2024 prospects and hinder Republicans' efforts to keep the U.S. House of Representatives, Axios' Andrew Solender reports.

State of play: Abortion rights groups in August launched a campaign to put the Arizona Abortion Access Act on next November's ballot.

  • The measure would permit abortions up to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks of pregnancy, which was the law in Arizona until the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
  • The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — which GOP lawmakers and former Gov. Doug Ducey enacted last year — is the law of the land.
  • Yes, but: The Arizona Supreme Court will hear arguments next month on whether that law is superseded by a pre-Roe ban on nearly all abortions.

What they're saying: Democratic political consultant Stacy Pearson believes the ballot measure could be a turnout driver for Democrats next year, telling Axios Phoenix: "I think given how close the margins of victory have been recently in Arizona, this could make a significant difference and could help turn at least one chamber in the Arizona Legislature blue."

  • And if the Arizona Supreme Court rules that the pre-Roe ban is enforceable instead of the 15-week ban, Pearson says, it could "blow the doors off for Democrats in Arizona"

Between the lines: The Arizona campaign needs to collect at least 383,923 valid signatures from voters by July 3 to qualify for the ballot.

  • Arizona for Abortion Access has hired nearly 450 signature gatherers in the past month.
  • The long-planned campaign estimates it'll need $40 million to $50 million.

The big picture: As many as eight states could have an abortion-related referendum on the ballot next November. Among those are nearly two dozen U.S. House districts rated as some degree of competitive by Cook Political Report, including Arizona's 1st and 6th districts, where President Biden defeated Donald Trump by about 1.5 and 0.1 percentage points, respectively.

  • Maryland and New York — which alone could have half a dozen swing districts pending a redistricting lawsuit — are both set to have referenda on the ballot.
  • In addition to Arizona, abortion rights advocates are in the process of trying to get constitutional amendments preserving access to abortion on the ballot in Florida and Nevada.
  • In Iowa, the GOP-controlled Legislature could set the stage for a vote on an amendment clarifying that the state constitution doesn't protect abortion. In Colorado and Nebraska, there are pushes for both pro- and anti-abortion rights ballot measures.

The bottom line: Election results in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia on Tuesday demonstrated that the issue is still boosting Democrats at the ballot box more than a year after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

  • Democrats took the results to show that the grassroots energy they've enjoyed since the ruling will make them competitive even in Trump country.
  • The backlash against overturning Roe also played a role in Democrats' surprisingly strong showing in the 2022 elections.
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