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- Correspondent for BBC Mundo in Los Angeles
“That’s my main motivation to vote.” Paxton Smith, an 18-year-old Texan, is speaking out about abortion.
This November 8th, she will go to the polls for the first time to choose her state’s governor and vote on who will represent her in the US Congress, in midterm elections that are crucial to the direction the country will take.
And after that in June The Supreme Court annuls the constitutional protection of abortionHe is very clear about who he will favor.
“I will vote for politicians who are in favor of the right to choose, because I know that they will be willing to pass laws that guarantee me control over my body, and thus over my life,” he explains to the BBC.
Voters like her are the Democratic Party’s trump card in defying historical trends —The ruling party usually loses in mid-term elections— and surveys yes, given President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and general despondency over inflation, they favor the Republican Party, at least in the House race.
Anyone could win the Senate, according to the political analysis site Five Thirty Eight.
For this reason, the Democrats have made him their workhorse, while the Republicans, advised by their advisers, adjust their strategy so that he does not play against them.
But to understand why it is so crucial, let’s go by the parts.
What is decided in these elections and how can it affect the right to abortion?
In the so-called mid-term elections, all seats in the House of Representatives and a third in the Senate are up for grabs.
Today, Biden’s party controls both houses: in the lower house it has 220 out of 435 votes (compared to 212 that the Republicans have, while there are three vacancies) and in the upper house, where the balance of power is equal (50-50), Vice President Kamala Harris gives the deciding vote.
To turn the tables and win a majority in the House of Representatives, Republicans must win five seats while keeping the ones they hold. And to control the Senate, they need an additional one, while Democrats must win one or lose none.
“The reconfiguration of Congress can directly affect the daily lives of Americans across the country, and abortion is a good example of this,” explains Anthony Zurcher, BBC reporter specializing in US politics.
“After the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional protection of the right to abortion (and left it up to the states to legislate on the matter), both parties have promised to pass new national legislation on the issue if they gain control of Congress“, he continues.
The Democratic Party has pledged to protect the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy, while the Republican Party has proposed a federal ban on abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy.
“Certain results in local races and gubernatorial elections in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan could mean additional restrictions on the practice there,” adds Zurcher.
So, what weight does abortion expect in deciding who to vote for?
According to the latest Pew Research Center poll on the issue, conducted in August, 56% of voters believe abortion will be “very important” reason for voting this November 8.
Another by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found last week that the issue is a key factor in mobilizing voters, especially among Democrats and those who live in states where abortion is now illegal.
Half of those surveyed said that repealing constitutional protections against abortion motivated them more to vote in this year’s election, compared to 43% in July and 37% in May.
Specifically, this reason was given by a 69% Democrats, 49% Independents and 32% Republicans. Additionally, 3 out of 5 women ages 18-59 who said they were likely to vote cited it as a reason.
And 41% of those who took part in another poll just released by NBC News said the Supreme Court ruling more likely to vote Democratversus 24% who said it made them more likely to support Republicans.
The survey was conducted by WPA Intelligence, the Republican Party’s political consulting firm, in the states where the race is expected to be the most close (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and Nevada). And when asked which side they would be on in the abortion debate, 54% answered “for the right to decide”, and 39% “pro-life”.
What other signs are there that this is a relevant issue in this election?
Analysts and political strategists mention the increase registration of new voters since the recall Roe v. Wadeespecially womenas another indication of the weight the abortion issue has in this election and that it could help the Democratic Party in the elections.
According to Glasaj.orgnon-profit, non-partisan organization, in the two weeks following the Supreme Court ruling, its website saw a 332% increase in users registering to vote compared to the previous two weeks.
And the August analysis of Upshot, a specialized site The New York Timesof the 10 states with available voter registration data showed that the number of women registered to vote increased by 35% after the decision, while the number of men increased by 9%.
The most optimistic are seeing results extraordinary elections implemented in a number of districts – such as in New York, where Democrats won the seat after making the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy their banner – and abortion consultation held in August in the conservative state of Kansas.
With a historic turnout, 60% of voters rejected changing the state constitution to limit abortion rights, an unexpected victory in this Republican stronghold.
Now, in the midterm elections, voters in five states will decide on ballot initiatives on the issue.
while in California, Michigan and Vermont must vote on amendments to state constitutions that seek to protect access to abortion, voters in Kentucky and Montana they will be consulted on proposals to limit access to surgery and give legal rights to fetuses.
“Let’s be clear: Access to abortion is one of the top motivating factors for voters. The polls tell us that. The number of women registered to vote across the country tells us that. Kansas tells us that,” she says. Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, a program launched by the largest reproductive health service in the US to support the candidacies of these rights defenders.
Republican strategist Barrett Marson’s analysis is not much different. “The vote in Kansas was a wake-up call for Republicans. And not only are the most extreme restrictions on abortion not a good starting point for attracting voters, but the whole topic has become a democratic motivation for going to the polls,” he told Guard.
With that in mind, what is the Democrats’ strategy? And what about the Republicans?
Democrats have put abortion at the forefront the center of your campaign and they tried to keep the covers.
“MAGA Republicans (Let’s Make America Great AgainTrump’s motto) cheered and celebrated the first Supreme Court decision in our history that not only failed to preserve a constitutional liberty, but removed a fundamental right that the same court had granted to so many Americans,” he said. President Biden last week .
His party also invested million dollars in ads about the topic; about $213 million, compared to $11 million from Republicans, according to AdImpact, an advertising tracking firm.
Meanwhile, activists from pro-life organizations have been visiting potential voters in their homes to persuade them to support candidates who promise to increase abortion restrictions.
They make arguments similar to those that young Texan Melanie Salazar shared with the BBC: “The procedure of abortion is deliberately ending the life of an unborn human being. It should not be the answer to any situation.”
But the Republican Party put the issue on the backburner to focus its campaign messages on the economy and insecurity.
And some Republican candidates are softened his stance on this issue in speeches and on the websites of their campaigns.
This is the case of Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters.
In an interview with the Catholic newspaper EWTN in March, he said of abortion: “Every society has had some form of human or child sacrifice, and this is our way. And that has to stop.”
In August, the Trump-backed candidate softened his stance in an ad, saying: “Look, I support banning late-term abortions and partial-births. And most Americans agree. It would put us on a par with other civilized nations.
But what consequences will all this have in the end? Will abortion end up changing the course of elections historically unfavorable to the ruling party, as the Democratic Party would like?
Or will the state of the economy and Biden’s low approval ratings ultimately determine his outcome, as the Republican has been betting?
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