Overview:

The attack on reproductive rights may have been the only issue capable of upending the historical trend of midterms favoring the party out of power.

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Women have been registering to vote at a historic rate since the conservative Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. A strong majority of newly registered voters across battleground states have been women. These newly registered voters are much more likely to be young, and they are much more likely to be Democrats. In the state of Pennsylvania, about 56% of newly registered voters since the Roe decision have been women, and about half have been younger than 25. 

Women registering to vote since the fall of Roe are having an immediate impact on elections throughout the country. Their impact has been so substantial that election forecasters are starting to acknowledge that the midterm elections may not bring the previously-predicted red wave

Historically, the party outside of the White House does extremely well in midterm elections because their voters are more energized. But after the Supreme Court’s action limiting abortion access, Democrats are becoming more politically engaged. Democrats have outperformed expectations in the 4 special elections with full results since the court’s ruling. Democrats also hold a small lead in the generic Congressional ballot polls. These outcomes aren’t consistent with a red wave, and people across the country are starting to take notice. 

“This decision came at a point in the election cycle where running for office was essentially off the table,” Debbie Walsh, the executive director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University said. “Filing deadlines have largely passed. But voting is still a powerful way for women to exercise their voice and this issue is energizing women, and they’re registering as Democrats.”

But energized Dems are only part of the story. A Kansas referendum that refused (by a massive margin) to give the state legislature the power to ban abortion indicates trouble in the GOP’s own house. In order to achieve the 59-41 landslide, the “no” vote required a very large percentage of Republican votes—and a very large percentage of those were women, including many who registered after the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade:

A lot of time remains before the midterm elections. Conditions on the ground could change. But right now, Democrats look like they have momentum moving toward November, and women are leading the charge.

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Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson is a political commentator and a political science Ph.D. candidate at American University. His primary research focus is the impact of political institutions on the racial wealth gap.