Abortion, a decisive issue in the elections

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

History teaches us that the party that controls the White House loses legislative seats in midterm elections.

If anyone knows that lesson, it’s Barack Obama. In 2010, midway through his historic first term as the first African-American president, Republicans rode a “red wave,” winning 63 seats and regaining control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the 2006 election.

It was the biggest change in the midterm elections since the 1938 vote. Distraught, Obama called the outcome a “disaster.” Two years later, already recovered, he won the 2012 elections, but the Democrats finished his two terms with fewer representatives, fewer senators and fewer governors.

12 years after that disaster, and less than 3 months before the November 8 elections, everything seems to indicate that the Democrats could surprise and rewrite history as long as they don’t score their own goal, something they know how to do with skill.

What are the indicators that operate against the feared “red wave”, that is, of an overwhelming Republican victory in 2022:

  • Although the economy is the primary concern of voters, a Pew Center poll shows that abortion rose in importance among Democratic voters after the controversial Supreme Court decision.
  • 56% of registered voters say that the issue of abortion will be very important in defining their vote, an increase of 13 points compared to March. That sentiment falls mostly among Democrats and independents.
  • Although other topics are highly important, in addition to the economy, such as gun control policy or violence, no topic has grown as important in the last 5 months as abortion.
  • As a sample: Democrat Tim Ryan campaigned under the banner of protecting abortion and defeated Republican Marc Molinaro in a special election in a New York district.
  • The Republicans are not helped by the fact that many of their nominees hold extremist positions — such as denying Joe Biden’s victory in 2020. Mitch McConnell, the conservative leader in the Senate, recognized for the first time that the “quality” of the candidates puts at risk a win in the Senate.
  • In fact, the Pew poll shows that 44% of registered voters would vote for a Democratic candidate in their district, compared to 42% for a Republican. By now, Republicans should be in the lead to repeat the feat of 2010.

This story confirms that electoral outcomes are not a fatality, but that it is the voters who define the result, sometimes due to unexpected circumstances. And the Latino community can give an example that, when writing history, we can be protagonists, not just spectators, by voting this November 8.