(CN) — Democrats face overwhelming odds heading into the November midterm elections. Inflation, compounded by rising gas and housing prices and low approval ratings plaguing Democratic legislators, suggest a comfortable path for Republicans to take back the U.S. House and win down the ballot. The GOP simply need not slip up.
That was before Friday, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal right to abortion, overruling its landmark Roe v. Wade precedent in a 6-3 split.
The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization now leaves it in the hands of the states to decide the legality of the medical procedure.
Abortion rights receive broad national support across the American electorate. In two polls from May, Gallup found that 85% believe abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances, with the Pew Research Center reporting 61%.
Experts in Arizona, Michigan and Texas are scratching their heads at the potential ramifications of the decision. The reversal of what was considered settled law could fuel conservative-leaning women towards more liberal candidates.
Valerie Hoekstra, a political science professor at Arizona State University and author of “Public Reaction to Supreme Court Decisions,” suggests the landmark ruling, largely made possible by three appointees of President Donald Trump, could disillusion voters.
“I think that the group that might be most vulnerable to thinking about this would be Republican women,” she said. “When Trump was the head of the party … they were so ambivalent. He appointed the justices that made this into a majority to overturn it — there could be some [heightened] ambivalence to see.”
According to a recent survey by OH Predictive Insights, 87% of registered voters in Arizona believe that abortion should be legal in some way. Only 13% of voters wanted abortion banned outright.
Additionally, 60% of those polled said a candidate’s stance on abortion would be very or somewhat impactful on their decision to vote for them or not.
“Democrats are staring down a tough political environment, and the recent ruling could be the much-needed jolt to get their base motivated to get out and vote in these all-important midterm elections,” said Mike Noble, chief of research at OH Predictive Insights.
Arizona House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, a Democrat from Phoenix, said the party has an opportunity to seize power from the Republicans, who control the governor's office and the state's House and Senate.
“I think it’s extremely important right now that Arizona voters know that we don’t have to sit back idly and let this decision affect our families,” he said. “There’s opportunities for us to challenge the 15-week abortion ban through a ballot initiative. And there’s an opportunity for us to … elect statewide office leaders and federal leaders that are going to stand with us here in Arizona and in D.C. to make sure that people have the protections they need.”
Almost all of Arizona's abortion clinics paused their services Friday, citing confusion over its legality in the state.
Arizona currently has two abortion laws on the books. One, a pre-Roe ban, bars the procedure, while a recent law bans abortion after 15 weeks, except in the cases where it would save the mother's life. The latter does not go into effect for 90 days.
Richard D. Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan, surmised this might be a moment where the tide could turn.
“I think for many years Republicans have benefited from a large number of voters who have been motivated principally by this issue. There are more pro-choice than anti-abortion voters, but the pro-choice voters tended not to be as motivated because Roe and Casey seemed to be doing the job,” he wrote in an email.