Things were already going badly for the GOP, and they just got worse with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) proposal for a national 15- week abortion ban.
His proposal is a marriage made in hell, a shotgun wedding of bad politics and horrible policy.
Women in states like California, Illinois and New York who thought they had nothing to fear from draconian state bans on reproductive rights in places like Texas, Idaho and Alabama now have lots to worry about, thanks to the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
There aren’t any competitive Senate races this year in any of these big blue states. But there are several swing House races in these places and Graham’s call for a national abortion ban is ready-made ammunition for the Democrats running in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City.
Early this year, the GOP had a simple theme that was working. The strategy was to make 2022 election a referendum on the economy. This was the platform that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wanted to use to take back the Senate. The plan started to unravel on June 23 when the Supreme Court announced its ruling in Dobbs and overturned the constitutionally enshrined right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973.
The high court ruling opened a Pandora’s box of horrors and GOP ideological excesses that eliminated reproductive rights for millions of women living in the South and the Mountain West. Now Graham wants to extend a ban nationwide.
It’s been all downhill for the GOP ever since the sad and mournful day of the Dobbs decision. Graham just added fuel to the fire that incinerated the fading GOP dream of a big win in November.
The first sign of trouble for Republicans was a referendum in the crimson red state of Kansas where voters voted overwhelmingly to reject an amendment to the state constitution that would have allowed the legislature to ban abortion.
The most recent hit to GOP was a Democratic victory in a special congressional election in a competitive suburban district in New York. The winning Democratic candidate, Pat Ryan, made his campaign a referendum on the Dobbs decision, and it paid off big time. The new member of Congress might have won an even more decisive victory if Graham had proposed his national abortion ban before the special election
A national poll conducted for the Wall Street Journal just before Labor Day indicated the nullification of Roe v. Wade had replaced the economy as the issue most likely to drive voters to the polls. The survey also showed that Democrats have a 20-point edge over the GOP on abortion policy.
A new national Fox News poll also illustrates the power of the support for abortion access/ pro-choice vote and the surge in support for Democratic congressional candidates. Voters indicated that they opposed the high court’s decision to overturn Roe by almost a two-to-one margin. Democrats had a decisive advantage among the many respondents in the survey who indicated that they were deeply concerned about abortion.
Graham just lobbed a hand grenade at GOP candidates who already had trouble evading attacks on their positions against reproductive rights.
GOP congressional hopefuls have seemingly been doing everything they can to avoid any discussion of abortion and to highlight the economy. This week, he put abortion back on the front burner and made it even more difficult for fellow Republicans to dodge the issue they just do not want to talk about.
Graham’s call for a national ban also undermines the GOP doctrine of states’ rights, which the party has used to buttress its position against economic and social change in the last few decades.
His proposal is more than an idle threat. If Republicans win control of the Senate, Graham will become the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with greater authority over abortion rights via appointments for federal judges.
“Roevember” is coming, and the GOP has only itself to blame.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon