Aug 29, 2022 - Politics

How abortion rights rescued Democrats' midterm hopes

Illustration of a healthcare cross, half red, half blue, with the colors fighting to take over the whole cross.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Fervor about protecting abortion rights has revitalized Democrats' midterm chances, both in Washington state and nationwide.

Driving the news: In Washington's August primary election, Republicans performed below expectations in most swing district legislative races and got shut out of the contest for secretary of state.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Democrats now have a good chance of maintaining control of the U.S. Senate, Axios' Josh Kraushaar writes.

What they're saying: The U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was a turning point in a year Democrats were expected to lose a slew of seats, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University.

  • "I think the abortion issue gave Democrats a rallying cry," Clayton told Axios Seattle last week. "It certainly motivated women voters and the base of the Democratic Party."
  • That could be seen in local races, including in the 47th Legislative District in King County, where no Republicans advanced in a race for an open House seat, said Alex Hays, a GOP political consultant. Instead, two Democrats will square off in November.
  • "The abortion ruling did significantly motivate Democratic voters in the primary," Hays told Axios Seattle.

The bottom line: While Democrats still face challenges this year, they are poised to do better this fall than they would have without the Supreme Court's abortion ruling, Clayton said.

  • "Whether it will be enough to counter the headwinds — inflation and the sour sense among the electorate — I don't know," he said.

Go deeper: Democrats' stunning turnaround.

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