Will Roe v. Wade Ruling Stop Republicans from Winning Midterms?

In the immediate aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Democrats reverted back to a common tactic of firing out fundraising emails and telling irate members of the public that the best way to secure abortion rights in the country was to vote for the party in the upcoming midterms.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic National Committee were among those who sent out emails seeking donations from supporters soon after the SCOTUS verdict on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which effectively overturned Roe v. Wade, was revealed on June 24.

"This fall, Roe is on the ballot," President Joe Biden said in a speech from the White House in the hours after the decision became public.

The Democrats received criticism for once again dangling the carrot of codifying Roe v. Wade into law in exchange for votes following years of failed attempts to do so. This time, however, it seems they are hoping the tactic is what saves the party from being obliterated by the Republicans in the midterms.

abortion gop midterms
Attendees hold signs during a protest against the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization on June 25, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion. Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Surveys have consistently shown that a majority of the public opposed overturning Roe v. Wade. A CBS News/YouGov reaction poll found that more 59 percent of Americans, including 67 percent of women, opposed the Supreme Court's overturning of the 1973 ruling, with 52 percent believing the move was a "step backward" for the country.

While statistically the party in control of the White House is the one that typically loses seats in midterms, there are suggestions that the Democrats and Biden may face a particularly dismal November if opinion polls are to be believed, with the GOP widely expected to take control of both the House and Senate.

With the president's approval rating still hovering around all-time lows, the Republican Party would really have to fumble over the next few months not to come out on top in the midterms.

However, Roe v. Wade now looks set to be an even bigger wedge issue between the parties, especially since a number of Republican states have already enacted trigger laws that ban or severely restrict pregnancy termination, the question remains—could the backlash ultimately damage the GOP?

"There has traditionally been asymmetrical mobilization on the issue of abortion. In the past, abortion was a more substantial driver of turnout for Republicans than Democrats," Rebecca J. Kreitzer, associate professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Newsweek.

"I think this is in part because Democrats didn't really think the right of abortion was at stake and that the Supreme Court would ultimately uphold Roe. All that has changed now."

Kreitzer said the Republican had previously proposed hugely restrictive abortion laws in the past, knowing they would ultimately be blocked by the Supreme Court, in order to satisfy anti-abortion activists and donors.

"However, as previously unenforceable bans on abortion go into effect, Republicans may find themselves facing uncomfortable scrutiny from mainstream voters who oppose such radical changes to abortion access," Kreitzer argued.

Dawn Teele, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University's SNF Agora Institute, suggests the midterms may come too soon for those in abortion-restricting states to feel the "full fall-out from these chaotic new laws to produce a new coalition in favor of liberalization."

"It will take a long time in restrictive states to get sensible public health measures back in place," Teele told Newsweek. "Things are going to get worse for many pregnant women there—including those with wanted pregnancies."

With regard to the midterms, Teele said the GOP was highly unlikely to flip any state that had vowed to protect access to abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Kreitzer, meanwhile, believes the renewed abortion debate may "mobilize support" for Democratic candidates more than Republican ones. However, over the next few months, the GOP will still be able to mobilize support around major issues such as rising inflation and record gas prices against the Democrats in the months leading to November.

"Time will tell if Democrats are about to maintain the current levels of outrage among the mass public. The news cycle moves incredibly fast in this era," Kreitzer said. "However, this is the first time in our history that a fundamental constitutional right was taken away."

"In the last week alone, the Supreme Court has issued several decisions that substantially change American law—dismantling the traditional separation of church and state, striking down long-standing gun regulations…Taken together, the perceived radicalism of the Supreme Court may shape support for Republicans."