Rallying voters on abortion could be Texas Democrats’ best chance to make gains in November

A likely overturn of Roe v Wade will energize both parties, but state Democrats – with typically lower voter turnout – have more room to grow.

By Jill AmentMay 10, 2022 2:26 pm,

With the US Supreme Court likely headed toward ending federal abortion rights assured under the decision Roe v Wade, it’s become a top campaign issue for Texas’ gubernatorial candidates.

While Republican leaders in the state have already put in place some of the strictest abortion restrictions in the country, a reversal of Roe v Wade would trigger provisions in state law that would outlaw abortion entirely. Meanwhile, many Texas Democrats – struggling to find momentum heading into the fall elections – are thinking the uncertain future of Roe will bring out enough supporters for them to unseat GOP leaders statewide. 

Rallying voters who are against overturning Roe v Wade could be the best chance Texas Democrats have this year to unseat Texas Republican leaders, says Renée Cross, senior director of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, where she also teaches political science.

“Abortion is an issue that is going to energize both parties. However, the Democrats have more room to grow just because typically their turnout is less,” Cross said. “However, I do think that Republicans will use that at least in a limited manner because of how that may affect independent voters, particularly in Texas, when independent voters tend to vote more like Republicans. Republicans can’t afford to lose their vote because we’ve seen in poll after poll that independents don’t support a complete ban of abortion.”

Even if this issue does help Democrats unseat statewide Republican leadership in the fall, it doesn’t mean abortion restrictions such as Senate Bill 8 or a trigger law that would ban abortions would immediately be overturned. 

“To a certain extent, what we have in place in Texas is going to remain, at least for the next couple of sessions,” Cross said.

Meanwhile, Democrats have scrutinized Republicans in the state for not prioritizing a foster care system riddled with problems or expanding safety nets for struggling mothers and their children.

“We have already seen folks on the campaign trail already just in the last week start to emphasize more funding for foster care, for adoption services, welfare programs for mothers,” Cross said. “So particularly among moderate Republicans, I think you’re going to hear more and more about that.”

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