Democrats are expressing skepticism that the leaked Supreme Court opinion indicating that the Court might be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade will help drive voter enthusiasm in the 2022 midterms and offset some of the losses the party is anticipating.
Politico reported Tuesday that, in the 23 hours after the outlet published the leaked draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Democratic National Committee’s fundraising arm, ActBlue took in just $9 million in donations, a minimal increase from days prior. Donations increased to $12 million by midnight Tuesday, but that number was paltry compared to ActBlue’s record fundraising day after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020. ActBlue smashed its single day fundraising record that day, raising more than $70 million between September 18-19, 2020, Politico reported at the time.
Democratic pollsters and strategists who spoke to Politico were skeptical that the leak would drive voters. Some were more optimistic, arguing that voters haven’t had time to fully digest the news yet, and that once Democrats begin messaging on the issue, it will drive voters, but many said that overturning Roe wouldn’t be much help. Issues like inflation are still much more pressing concerns, and the base of the party, who would vote to preserve abortion rights, already live in Democratic states that protect abortion, and are already expected to turn out in large numbers anyway.
“Midterm voters care about affordability first and foremost, and they are not people who are worried every single day about losing access to abortion,” said Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky, who began her career at the pro-abortion rights advocacy group EMILY’s List. “Is this something they lose sleep over every night? No. What they do lose sleep over is, ‘I can’t fill up my gas tank, it’s really expensive. I can’t afford to send my kid to college, it’s really expensive.’ … Any voter who will vote purely based on [Roe] is an incredibly committed voter who will be coming out in the midterms, anyway.”
Recent polling done by Politico seems to concur with the strategists’ conclusions. A Politico/Morning Consult poll of nearly 2,000 registered voters conducted Tuesday, the day after the draft opinion leaked, showed that while voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade by a 50%-28% margin, the issue is at the bottom of voters’ concerns, even among Democrats. The most pressing set of issues among registered voters were economic issues: 41% of voters said it was the most important set of issues, while just 8% said women’s issues like abortion and birth control were most important. The economy was the most important issue for Democrats as well: 31% of Democrats said the economy was the most important issue, while just 14% said women’s issues were most important. The Supreme Court decision did not have a major impact on voter enthusiasm, either: 30% of Democrats were “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in the midterms, compared to 37% of Republicans. The same poll from last week found that 24% of Democrats were “very enthusiastic,” compared to 35% of Republicans, a net shift of just 4%.
At least one prominent Democrat in Congress has also indicated that inflation and economic issues will be front-and-center in 2022. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju that he believes inflation will be the defining issue in the midterms. “Inflation is the number one driving factor … I believe in my state right now it’s hurting everybody,” Raju quoted Manchin in a tweet Tuesday. “Follow the money.”