Politics

Abortion Won’t Save Democrats In The Midterms, Despite Their Newfound Hopes

(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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Democrats are energized after the pro-choice victory in a Kansas abortion referendum Tuesday, but only a handful of House seats are up for grabs in November in states where abortion is on the ballot.

Voters in Kansas dealt a blow to the pro-life movement Tuesday when they opted overwhelmingly not to amend the state constitution to specify that there is no right to abortion. Some prognosticators posited that the result is a sign of Democratic momentum for the 2022 midterms, but there are only five other states with abortion referendums slated for November, and very few competitive races within them.

Americans will head to the polls to decide the future of abortion in their state in California, Vermont, Montana, Kentucky and likely Michigan. None of those states are slated to have competitive Senate races, and there are only three House of Representatives seats currently held by Democrats that are classified as “toss-ups” by Cook Political Report.

Polling has indicated for months that Republicans are virtually guaranteed to win back the House, with a strong chance to take the Senate as well, halting the Biden legislative agenda in its tracks for the remaining two years of the president’s first term. Some Democrats viewed the Kansas result as a potential sign of a shift in the winds after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

Robert Reich tweeted that “Kansas is the start” and issued a warning to anti-abortion politicians for November. Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, said that Georgians must turn out in November to save abortion after “Kansas showed us what’s possible.” Reuters published a piece arguing that Kansas offered the party an “abortion playbook” before November.

But the numbers simply aren’t there, barring a shocking polling error in Democrats’ favor. FiveThirtyEight currently projects that Republicans will win a 27-seat majority, with Democrats dropping from 220 seats currently to just 204. There aren’t nearly enough competitive seats in states where abortion is on the ballot to make up that difference. (RELATED: ‘We Follow The Law Here’: Reporter Confronts Jean-Pierre On Biden’s Executive Order Surrounding Abortion)

Even expanding the classification of races from “toss-ups” to those that “lean” Republican or Democratic doesn’t get there. By that criteria, there are still only seven races where Democrats are defending a seat in an abortion referendum state — four in California, and three in Michigan.

Democrats have claimed that “abortion is on the ballot” in November — it’s emerged as a common talking point from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy. In reality, that only applies to a small portion of American voters, and not nearly enough to save the Democratic majority in the midterms.