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Discussion of abortion could save Democrats in US legislative election


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It was no use for the US Supreme Court to sweep abortion freedom out the door, because the issue has returned through the window and is apparently flamboyant in the middle of the room.

In short, it became an electoral issue for the midterm legislative elections in November, in which voters will renew one third of the Senate and the entirety of the Chamber.

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The Economist magazine noted that an old tradition tended this time not to be respected. It is the one in which the president’s party loses ground to the opposition party. Behold, Joe Biden’s Democrats may not lose the space they predicted and still secure a tight majority among senators.

The reason for this resilience is precisely the right to abortion. Voters and voters realized that it is necessary to compensate for the vote made in June by the Supreme Court justices. They decided that the voluntary termination of pregnancy was no longer a constitutional right, and it was up to the 50 states to decide, individually, whether to impose some degree of restriction.

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The theme is raised by one of the recent podcasts that the Economist dedicates to American politics. Journalists and political scientists treat abortion with some surprise. They did not believe that the topic would be discussed again with the current intensity.

“People ask me, and there’s clearly a transformation of that into a theme from which part of the voters will choose their candidates,” says Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat who is running for re-election for the 7th district in the state of Virginia.

But let’s step back a little and fly over the American electoral system. Voting is not mandatory, and every four years, when the president is chosen, voter turnout is much higher. It has varied between 50% and 60% of those qualified over the last 50 years. Two years later, the midterms take place, in which attendance is lower, around 40%.

Abortion lit two lights this year. As soon as the Supreme Court made its decision, political scientists saw that there was a race of voters seeking to qualify for the vote. They were 10% more than in previous elections. The second was lit days ago in a by-election. In a vote to fill the seat of New York’s 19th district, a candidate won for turning that right into a strong campaign banner.

But let’s temper any hasty conclusions. Republicans are not systematically opposed to abortion, and Democrats are not opposed to it.

There are Republicans close to former President Donald Trump who want to ban the procedure in the state of Michigan in teenagers who are victims of sexual violence and are threatening to put in jail the doctors who agree to do so. But there is a more moderate consensus in the party, which sets a limit of 15 weeks for a pregnancy to be surgically terminated.

However, the Trump factor has caused a very deep division in US politics. More or less like the Jair Bolsonaro factor in Brazil. The two camps tend to become radicalized, although this is only noticeable in the provincial backyard of small campaigns.

In the state of Arizona, provoked Republicans want to reinstate the ban from the 1910s of the last century, which only allowed abortion to save the patient’s life. That’s already law in Mississippi. Georgia and South Carolina are two of the states where the ban, if it ever comes out, tends to be radical. That’s not the case in Pennsylvania, where Republicans just want some restrictions.

A curious case is the state of Kansas. The Democratic governor is certain of her re-election, but without the 20-point advantage she once had in times when the defense of abortion was not on the agenda.

But November approaches, and Republicans and Democrats do their math. They know that the midterms would allow, if the custom were followed, that this time the Democrats lost four seats in the Senate (there are a total of 100, with 50 for each party) and 24 among the 435 seats of federal representatives.

It is not, however, what should happen. It is more than possible, for example, that the Democrats will win a slight majority of senators, precisely because of the electoral growth of abortion as a topic.

Predictions are made very finely tuned. There is rarely a party that bursts with dozens of advance points. Victories and defeats are given by proportionately small amounts of votes. And that is why abortion tends to acquire a weight that is beyond decisive at the polls.

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