Factsheet: Are Abortion Policy Attacks Hurting the GOP?

For immediate release: November 1, 2022

The conventional wisdom around the D.C. Beltway is that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision dampened Republican momentum over the summer, jeopardizing GOP odds of taking back the House and Senate in the 2022 mid-terms. However, this may not be true. Democrats did get a bounce in the polls over the summer, but Dobbs isn’t the only thing that happened during that time. The summer provided several upbeat news developments for the incumbent party:

All the above affected the general mood of the nation, undercutting GOP messaging on the economy. Despite this, political insiders and media reflexively identified abortion as the main culprit behind the decline in GOP polling momentum. Undoubtedly, the importance of abortion policy surged after Dobbs, but is this necessarily to the disadvantage of Republicans?

A recent Harvard-Harris Poll conducted from October 12-13 found that among those that rank abortion as a top issue, Democrats lead Republicans by only 3pts (38%-41%) despite Democrats running hard on the issue as many Republicans shied away from the topic. Similarly, the poll found a 50-50 split among voters on whether abortion policy should be left to the states instead of enshrined as a right. These results have been consistent across several iterations of the same poll over the past few months.

The takeaway: Narratives that proclaim Dobbs will hinder Republican prospects of taking back control of Congress may be greatly exaggerated. Likewise, Democrats campaigning hard on expanding abortion access may prove fruitless in their attempt to defy history and hold on to control of Congress.

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