Power to the People

Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor

As long as Democrats running in swing races from the presidential race down to the state legislature tie their Republican opponents to Republican abortion policy they can’t lose.
Rachel Bitecofer

On August 8, a three million strong “silent coalition of liberal, swing and moderate Republican” voters showed up to “spank” the Ohio Republican Party-backed Issue 1 by a margin of 14 points in a state former president Donald Trump won by eight in 2020. The ballot measure would have made it almost impossible for citizen initiatives to amend the state’s constitution by raising the signature threshold to 60 percent from the current simple majority.

It is no secret that Issue 1 was a sneaky preemptive strike to sabotage the abortion rights measure slated for the November ballot and expected to pass easily under the simple majority rule in effect.

Nevertheless, the Republican-driven Issue 1 measure, championed by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, was soundly defeated in all eight Ohio urban counties. The seven suburban counties also defeated the measure by a combined 55 to 44 percent margin. Issue 1 also even failed in counties like Delaware, a northern Columbus suburb, which has voted Republican in every presidential race since 1916 and voted against long-serving U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in 2018.

What is clear is that since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 Dobbs decision, abortion’s significance in the U.S. political sphere has soared to unprecedented levels.

According to a recent Gallup poll, we see a significant increase in Americans identifying as pro-choice, more than any in the past 25 years, even as the pro-life segment of the electorate has declined.

In addition, a substantial 28 percent of the electorate now say they will only vote for candidates who agree with their stance on abortion. At the other end of the spectrum, the number of those who say abortion is unimportant in their electoral concerns has dwindled to a mere 14 percent – the lowest in history.

The general perception is that the Democratic Party is more pro-choice in its stance compared to the Republican Party. Therefore, the surge in pro-choice sentiment should translate into more support for Democratic candidates, Gallup concludes.

Does Abortion trump Party Loyalty?

LaRose has recently announced a GOP primary run for the chance to take on Democratic Senator Brown for the U.S. Senate. The race would be one of the most high-profile 2024 races in Ohio.

Notably, 25 percent of voters for Trump in 2020 were pro-choice even though the former president and Republican politicians espoused pro-life policies.

After repeatedly denying it, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose finally acknowledged that the push to make the constitution tougher to change was entirely because of the people’s looming attempt to legalize abortion. Even Republican legislators acknowledged the Party’s bold and shameless rush to get Issue 1 on the ballot without enough time to run a quality campaign.

Seen by many on the left as the Republican Party’s intrusive “war on women,” conservative abortion policies deprive women of autonomy in their healthcare decisions and subvert the will of the people.

So, the question becomes: Will LaRose lose support from female Republicans who are so outraged by the Republicans’ “war on women” that they decide to essentially switch parties in a highly partisan election?

If LaRose faces off against Brown, the August 8 defeat of Issue 1 means that the abortion issue could “serve as an anvil around LaRose’s neck” as he carries the baggage and fallout from the measure’s embarrassing loss.

What is certain is that more people leaning pro-choice means that voters are now prioritizing where a candidate stands on the issue of abortion.

The shifting dynamic has potentially swayed several other recent voting outcomes. Even in red or Republican-leaning states, voters said “no thanks” to attempts to ban abortion in their constitutions. The shift also may have given the Democratic Party an unexpected boost in the 2022 midterm congressional elections, where they performed better than expected.

We might see the same trend in 2024 if voters’ attitudes remain consistent.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at drdlperryman@enterofhopebaptist.org