The GOP’s Abortion Politics

The GOP’s Abortion Politics

GOP stands to gain in midterms from Democrats’ insistent abortion messaging, silence on economy

With an election as close as this one — both parties will need each other, and neither is likely to be able to win even a single electoral vote — the question facing the Republican Party is whether it can harness the intense interest in the presidential contest to its advantage.

Whether the Republican Party is capable of winning national elections is a topic that has been debated among party strategists for decades, and it is a key question for any potential president. It would seem that the party’s most basic imperative is to win the White House, but the task of defining and campaigning on an issue such as abortion has been one that has haunted both Republican and Democratic politicians for decades.

To be sure, Democrats have not been completely silent on the topic. But over the past three decades, abortion has played a far more significant role in Democratic politics than it has played in Republican politics. By the end of the second Democratic president’s term in the mid-1990s, an average of four abortion rights initiatives had been introduced in Congress – the bulk of which were introduced by Democrats. On the Republican side, the introduction of an abortion-related bill was just 1 out of 18 bills introduced in the Senate between 1995 and 2013.

In contrast, the numbers on abortion in the midterms have been equally stark and have gone entirely against the GOP. In the 2010 GOP wave election, three abortion rights bills were introduced, in addition to the 20 or so bills on abortion introduced over the previous two decades.

In other words, the Republican Party has been running on an issue that has not been central to their agenda. However, the way it approached the Democratic Party on abortion has been a critical turning point that can be applied similarly to other issues in the GOP’s future messaging.

While the exact numbers on abortion may vary depending on the methodology used, there is much that is known about the GOP’s abortion politics, and it is notable that the Republican Party is far better versed on the topic than it is on other social issues, such as gay marriage, which it has been able to win on with little in the way of ideological controversy or the threat of losing its national party platform.

The party’s abortion position

For decades, Republicans have been silent on abortion for a number of reasons. For the most part, they have been

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