Georgia swing voters don’t view ‘abortion v. inflation’ as a ‘simple binary choice’

Georgia swing voters don’t view ‘abortion v. inflation’ as a ‘simple binary choice’

It remains to be seen how the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization will affect the outcome of the 2022 midterms. Some pundits have argued that if the High Court overturns Roe — a likely outcome in light of a leaked majority draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito — Republicans will suffer politically in swing states and swing districts. But other pundits have argued that voters will be more worried about inflation when they go to the polls in November.

The research firm Engagious tried to gauge swing voters’ top concerns when it held two focus groups in Georgia — the first on May 10, the second on May 13. Once a deep red state, Georgia has evolved into a swing state. Georgia has a conservative Republican governor: Brian Kemp, but it has two Democratic U.S. senators — Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock — and President Joe Biden won Georgia in 2020’s presidential election.

In an article published by the conservative Never Trump website The Bulwark on May 20, Engagious President Rich Thau and his colleague Matt Steffee (Engagious’ vice president of research services) explain, “When we conducted a pair of focus groups on May 10 with 13 Georgia swing voters, one question stood out: Will the November elections be more about abortion or inflation? We took our cue from the previous day’s news reports, where a headline in the Washington Post declared: ‘GOP’s midterm bet: Voters Will Care More About Inflation Than Abortion.’ The same day, a Yahoo News headline proclaimed: ‘Democrats Plan to Emphasize Abortion In The Midterms. Republicans Plan to ‘Change the Topic.’”

According to Thau and Steffee, “both parties are failing miserably in framing the midterm elections” if the Trump-to-Biden swing voters Engagious spoke to in Georgia “are any indication.” The swing voters in Georgia don’t view abortion versus inflation as “more complex than a simple binary choice.”

“Democrats are failing to animate swing voters over abortion rights, and Republicans are failing to lay the blame for high inflation at Biden’s doorstep,” Thau and Steffee report. “Let’s start with abortion. None of our 13 swing voters — six Republicans, three Democrats, and four independents — are planning to vote for Democrats in November specifically as a way to protest the expected overturning of Roe v. Wade. While all of them oppose such a decision, only a handful feel strongly enough to do anything about it personally.”

Thau and Steffee note that most of the swing voters in the focus groups “were concerned that if abortion rights are taken away, other rights could follow.”

“Yet come November, many of these voters said they will be more animated to vote because of concerns over gun control, taxes, climate change, the war in Ukraine, the economy, and inflation than over abortion rights,” Thau and Steffee report. “Speaking of inflation, 11 of our 13 swing voters said inflation is a major concern for them, and 12 expect inflation to keep rising into 2023. When asked who they blame for inflation, though, none of them volunteered President Biden or solely Democrats. Instead, they cited corporations, Vladimir Putin, stimulus checks, and COVID as culprits.”

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