Since January 2021, the Democratic Party’s approval rating has dropped from 48% to 43%. As the Democratic Party’s support dwindles on a national level, the abortion issue may provide the party with a fighting chance to stave off a red wave in the 2022 midterm elections. A Republican House of Representatives and Senate would limit what Biden could accomplish in the second half of his first term, hurting Democrats’ chances of reclaiming the White House in 2024. However, there’s a way the Democratic Party could limit damage going into the 2022 midterms — it would just be terrible for America.
This December, the Supreme Court is expected to hear a case regarding a new law in Mississippi that intends to ban abortions if the pregnant person is over 15-weeks pregnant. This is a significant challenge to Roe v. Wade, which guarantees the right to an abortion in the U.S. Given the 6-to-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, it’s quite possible that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, which would allow states to effectively ban abortions. According to a Gallup poll from June, 58% of Americans support Roe v. Wade whereas 32% do not. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, political engagement regarding this decision could skyrocket, especially among women. The Democratic Party knows this, and they are already taking advantage of it.
On Sept. 24, Democrats in the House of Representatives passed a bill to protect abortion along party lines, with just one House Democrat voting against the bill. The bill will inevitably be blocked or filibustered in the U.S. Senate. Recently, attempts by the Department of Justice to temporarily block a Texas law banning nearly all abortions in the state after the detection of a fetal heartbeat were overturned by a U.S. Court of Appeals. Out of options, the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to block the Texas law. A decision on the case is pending.
Seemingly, the Department of Justice is already powerless to defend the right to abortion, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned, any further attempts would be futile. Efforts by the Democratic Party to protect abortion on a national level will likely continue to fail, but they still serve an important role. Recent events illustrate that the Democratic Party will maintain and strengthen its pro-choice convictions moving into the 2022 midterms, potentially resulting in a boost in female voter turnout during these elections.
Recent political history suggests that an increase in turnout among women during midterm elections results in Democratic gains in either one or both chambers of Congress. The 2006 and 2018 midterm elections saw the highest turnout amongst women since the 1970s at 44.7% and 50.6%, respectively. The 2006 midterm elections saw Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, whereas the 2018 midterms saw Democrats win just the House of Representatives. Democrats tend to have an advantage in midterm elections when more women turn out to vote, and if abortion is a key issue in the 2022 midterms, Democrats could expect a spike in support from women.
Abortion is a right that should be available for all people. The Democratic Party has long championed these values and will likely continue to do so. However, the Democratic Party will benefit from the abortion issue in the 2022 midterms if Roe v. Wade is overturned. A red wave in the 2022 midterms could be limited, if not altogether halted, if the Democratic Party stands up for abortion rights in a post-Roe v. Wade society. Although the Democratic Party often finds itself on the “historically correct” side of issues, it is a political party nonetheless and will do what it needs to do in order to protect its power.
Editor’s Note: The views presented in this story belong to the writer and are not necessarily reflective of North by Northwestern as a whole.