Political strategists during a WisPolitics.com event argued discussions on overturning Roe v. Wade could drive more voters to the polls from both sides of the aisle.
Democratic strategist Tanya Bjork at the Madison Club luncheon Thursday said the expected U.S. Supreme Court move to overturn the federal ruling that could bring back Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal ban on abortions may energize more Dem voters to turn out. But Republican strategist Keith Gilkes of Platform Communications argued a possible abortion ban or, at least restrictions, could also drive to the polls Republicans who have been advocating against abortion access.
Gilkes added the issue may motivate more undecided voters to turn out, something he says any candidate will need to recognize to win in a state with nearly evenly split partisan voting bases.
“There’s a swath that tend to be social conservatives who are disillusioned about leadership within the Republican Party,” he said. “And in this instance there’s an opportunity for them to go out and support a candidate.”
Bjork argued talk of overturning Roe would be a boon for Dems as Marquette University Law School Poll data shows a majority of Wisconsinites support keeping the current federal protections for abortion access.
“Young voters, women voters, suburban moms and the soccer mom we used to talk about a lot; I think we’re going to start talking a lot about again,” she said. “Because these are folks who are going to be highly motivated to get out and vote that may not have been as motivated pre-this decision.”
MU Law Poll Director Charles Franklin said during the event politicians are far more polarized on abortion than voters.
Franklin noted 61 percent of respondents to the most recent poll believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while about 34 percent of respondents say it should be illegal in all or most cases. While that looks like most Wisconsinites support abortion access, he said it will come down to how motivating the issue is for each side, noting 30 percent of Republicans favor upholding Roe v. Wade protections.
“You know, the pro-life folks have worked for 49 years to overturn this decision, and here it comes,” he said. “How can that not be really motivating? Democrats on the pro-choice side are seeing this dramatic change, and it’s not just that we’re going to tighten restrictions in some way, it’s that we’re going to hand this back to the individual state legislatures, where who the majority in the Legislature is and who controls the governor’s office can be a big deal.”