'Abortion could be a deal breaker': GOP strategists warn Roe v. Wade will energize 'a complacent majority' and hurt the GOP in 2022

'Abortion could be a deal breaker': GOP strategists warn Roe v. Wade will energize 'a complacent majority' and hurt the GOP in 2022

For decades, pro-choice conservatives like former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania warned that the GOP could face a major backlash if the Christian right ever succeeded in getting Roe v. Wade overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. But they were lonely voices in a party that was hijacked by Christian nationalists and far-right white evangelical fundamentalists. Now, with GOP-appointment justices having a 6-3 majority on the High Court, the overturn of Roe v. Wade edges closer to reality — and some Republican strategists, McClatchy's Adam Wollner reports in an article published on September 27, fear that their party will pay a price politically if pro-choice voters are energized.

"After decades of fighting against the Roe v. Wade decision," Wollner explains, "conservatives scored a pair of major victories this month when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a restrictive abortion law in Texas to take effect and set a date to hear arguments about another in Mississippi later this year. But Republicans aren't so sure the issue of abortion will be a political winner heading into the 2022 midterm elections."

One of those Republicans is pollster Christine Matthews, who told McClatchy, "I think what's happening right now with the Texas and Mississippi cases is it's waking up a complacent majority. People who generally support a right to a legal abortion with some restrictions but haven't really thought it was in jeopardy are waking up to the idea that it could be significantly eliminated or virtually eliminated in some cases."

According to Matthews, "Abortion could be a deal-breaker. It could expand the list of voters who won't consider voting for a Republican now."

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, that wouldn't automatically mean the end of legal abortion in the United States. Rather, the legality of abortion, post-Roe, would be decided on a state-by-state basis. For example, abortion might be illegal in Texas but legal in New Mexico and Colorado, or legal in Illinois but illegal in Indiana. And swing states would no doubt become major battlegrounds over the abortion issue, which could fire up Christian nationalists in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election but could also fire up pro-choice voters.

Former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives via Virginia from 1995-2008, told McClatchy, "Pro-lifers have been more motivated in the past because the pro-choice side had been the winners in the courts. This could change that dynamic a little bit."

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