Where Things Stand: Ohio Win Emboldens Next Abortion Effort In Arizona

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WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2023/04/15: Activists holding abortion rights signs and shout slogans while joining in a rally. Abortion rights activists rallied outside the US Supreme Court in Wa... WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2023/04/15: Activists holding abortion rights signs and shout slogans while joining in a rally. Abortion rights activists rallied outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. On April 14, the Court temporarily preserved access to mifepristone, a widely used abortion pill, in an 11th-hour ruling preventing lower court restrictions on the drug from coming into force. (Photo by Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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The defeat of Issue 1 and the win for abortion rights in Ohio last night stands as another datapoint in an ongoing trend: abortion rights have consistently prevailed when placed on the ballot — an observation that, notably, holds in red and purples states — since Roe’s overturning last year. And it emboldens ongoing efforts by pro-abortion rights and left-leaning groups to push Democrats to embrace the issue as a wedge that could help them hold the Senate and take back the House in 2024.

Earlier this summer, a coalition of left-leaning groups led by the New Yorkers for Equal Rights announced they’d organize around a ballot initiative to go before New York voters next fall that, if approved, would codify abortion access and several other crucial rights, in the state constitution. New York, of course, is a blue state — but in announcing the effort the groups outlined how energized turnout in support of the ballot measure could also help Democrats win back some key swing districts currently held by Republicans.

In the wake of the 14-point win in Ohio, other progressive groups want to take a similar approach to New York in Arizona, which has a key Senate race and two battleground House races in 2024, and will play a key role in deciding the presidential election.

The progressive group Indivisible sent out a memo to donors Wednesday outlining their intention to help gather enough signatures to get a measure that would codify abortion rights into the state constitution on the ballot in 2024. Several other groups like Planned Parenthood and ACLU already announced earlier this week that they’d help support the Arizona for Abortion Access political committee in running a ballot initiative campaign for the 2024 election. Abortion is currently banned in Arizona post-15 weeks.

“In 2024, national Democratic donors and stakeholders should look to Arizona as the next
state with a serious, layered return on investment for putting abortion on the ballot. New
polling reaffirms that Arizona has a unique and strong pro-choice streak that crosses party
lines, motivating Democrats and muddying the waters for many Republican voters, who
don’t follow their party’s extremes,” Indivisible wrote in its memo to donors Wednesday. “It shows an increased likelihood that pro-choice voters turn out to vote, boosting Democratic candidates up and down the ticket in a state with numerous, must-win competitive races at the Presidential, Senate, House, and state legislative level.”

The group also cited new polling it conducted with Data for Progress that found 60 percent of Arizonians identify as “pro-choice,” and that includes 58 percent of Independent voters. Additionally: “The presence of an abortion measure on the ballot shifts vote likelihood in
Democrats’ favor: After learning of the measure, Democrats said they were 2%
more likely to vote while Republicans said they were 7% less likely to vote,” the memo said.

The approach that Indivisible is suggesting is one TPM has been covering in various forms for some time. The Washington Post today cites this Ballotpedia review that takes into account all of the abortion initiatives in six states in the last year. Comparing Biden’s performance to that of pro-abortion rights ballot measures is striking, and the energizing power of the issue presents compelling odds for Democratic turnout in the next cycle if abortion remains a focus for candidates:

A review of six statewide votes since last year, including Ohio’s, shows that in 500 of 510 counties, access to abortion outperformed President Biden’s 2020 results. Across those counties, including a lot of deep-red ones, the margin of support for abortion access topped Biden’s 2020 margin by an average of 26 points, a significant shift to the left.

Looking at county-level results, the gap between support for abortion access (support for minus opposition to the ballot measure, initiative or amendment) and support for Biden (Biden’s county-level support minus Donald Trump’s in 2020) was wider in red states. This makes some sense, given that blue states had more support for Biden in the first place, making it harder to see significantly wider support for abortion access. Regardless, the average gap across counties in California was 11 points and in Michigan, 17. In Ohio, it was 22 points and in Kansas, 37.

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