Conventional wisdom states that the approaching decision overturning the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade will energize the Democratic base and turn them into avenging angels, marching to the polls.

Or, conventional wisdom claims that the decision will make the GOP even more conservative and energize its evangelical base, causing them to flock to voting booths to reward Republicans.

Or, non-conventional wisdom — my supremely wise and prescient comments — will point out that partisans always overstate the effect on an election of any single event and that both sides are full of it. The effect of repealing Roe will be minimal.

If you’re a Democrat, there’s a lot of wishful thinking in whatever conventional wisdom you’re selling. Frankly, it’s all you’ve got.


Hours after POLITICO’s reporting on the high court’s draft opinion, Democrats privately predicted that the potential decision by its five-conservative majority to repeal the landmark abortion-rights ruling would energize their base and drive up turnout in November. The party’s governors, senators and House members took to social media and the airwaves with reactions that ranged from pleas to codify Roe to emotional personal stories.

“This kind of outcome is exactly what I’ve been ringing alarm bells about — and this is a five alarm fire,” said Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the chamber’s No. 3 Democrat and leader of its health committee.

“The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement late Monday. They said the decision would be the “greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years.”

This is an attack plan, not a reflection of reality. Abortion will still be legal after Roe is — as expected — repealed. Pelosi, Schumer, and the entire Democratic leadership will denounce this decision from here to Christmas and never mention that one salient fact.

Abortion will still be legal.

The vast majority of commentary on the political impact of the decision repealing Roe predicts big Democratic gains, but here and there, some sanity emerges.


Though there has already been speculation that overturning Roe will become a major issue in the 2022 midterms and could harm the GOP’s chances of retaking the House of Representatives and the Senate, polling from Gallup suggests that Americans are far less concerned about abortion than other issues.

Most Americans are not partisan activists or radical feminists or radical pro-lifers, for that matter. People are far more concerned about other issues than abortion.

Polling on the issue of abortion is a mixed bag, depending on what questions are asked and how they’re phrased. But it would be accurate to say that a majority of Americans support abortion — at least, under certain circumstances. Those circumstances vary from exceptions for rape and incest to saving the life of the mother.

But a vast majority also don’t see abortion as a vital issue.

Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London’s Centre on U.S. Politics, told Newsweek on Tuesday that much could depend on the “silent majority” of U.S. voters’ reaction to the potential repeal of Roe.

“A repudiation of Roe will have the predictable effect of galvanizing two sides of the debate: the progressive left, who will cast the decision as an historic assault on women’s rights; and the Evangelical right, who will herald the outcome as a major moral victory,” Gift said.

However, Gift said that outcome was “obvious” and the political consequences could largely be a “wash out.”

Attempts to “criminalize” women for having an abortion will be hugely unpopular, and the majority of people are opposed to completely banning the practice. But as far as changing people’s votes, it’s just not going to happen on a large scale. Americans are not single-issue voters, and this decision is not going to pull Biden’s — and the Democrats’ chestnuts out of the fire in November.

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