GOP stands to gain in midterms from Democrats’ insistent abortion messaging, silence on economy
TAMPA, Florida — Democrats are making a concerted attempt to reframe their midterm election messaging on abortion rights, using a tactic they hope can counter GOP efforts to turn attention toward a tax cut, an improved economy and other issues.
“It won’t be Democrats who talk about Roe v. Wade and the importance of women’s health care,” said Katie Porter, founder of Tea Party Nation. “That’s what the Republicans have used against us, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.”
While much of the mainstream Democratic Party has sought to cast the midterms as a referendum on Supreme Court nominees, the focus on abortion has only grown since the election.
“It’s very clear that Democrats are trying to take the focus off of the tax reform legislation they passed,” said J. Christian Adams, director of the political science program at the University of South Florida. “They want to talk about it, and they’ve been very successful.”
The House has passed its tax bill, and President Barack Obama signed legislation that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for abortions to women who are victims of rape or incest.
At the same time, they’ve left the economy out of their messaging. The Democratic response, according to Adams, has been to “tell the story of how Republicans slashed jobs and hurt the middle class and the struggling working class. They have to tell those stories in order for them to win again.”
Democrats say the focus on abortion has made the election about women’s health, but also about who can deliver the most votes in the midterm.
Their argument is that voters will cast their ballots based on issues where they see Democrats as the party with the best chance of defeating Republicans.
“If Democrats had the best message on abortion, they would beat the Republicans and be able to secure a House,” said Michael Malbin, assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston. “Democrats have the best message for women on reproductive rights, and the Democrats have the best message for women that have an identity outside of party affiliation.”
Republicans insist they don’t need to change their messaging strategy.
“The election’s already over,”