Some conservatives are bearish on the pro-life political issue. They point to the midterm elections and the recent Wisconsin election as proof that the pro-life issue should be downplayed. Pulse believes they are absolutely wrong.
The esteemed columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel, warned:
“At some point, the GOP might want to acknowledge its glaring abortion problem—and do something about it … in Wisconsin this week an out-and-out progressive judge, Janet Protasiewicz, easily seized the swing seat on the state’s high court.”
Not so fast.
Daniel Kelly, her opponent, was ousted from the bench in a 2020 election by 11 points (before the Dobbs decision overturned Roe v Wade). If abortion was such a big factor in his 2023 loss, post-Dobbs, you would have expected his losing margin to have grown, but it didn’t. He again lost by 11 points.
Ms. Protasiewicz’s campaign outspent her conservative rival, Daniel Kelly, by close to $6 million. That’s a big edge, and it allowed her to keep Kelly on defense on the abortion issue to the point that he distanced himself from Wisconsin pro-life groups. And for the record, 2 out of every 3 dollars spent by Protasiewicz’s campaign focused on issues other than abortion, such as crime and security.
Mr. Kelly was also linked to former President Trump, a common thread with candidates in the midterm elections who underperformed.
So to label the pro-life political issue as the root cause of the Republican loss in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election is inaccurate. It’s more complicated than that.
What about the midterms?
Pro-life candidates who remained on offense by promoting gestational limits on abortion enjoyed great success.
Alabama governor Kay Ivey won reelection with 67 percent of the vote.
Sara Huckabee Sanders won the Arkansas governorship with 63 percent.
Idaho governor Brad Little won reelection with 60 percent.
Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt won reelection with 55 percent.
South Dakota governor Kristi Noem won reelection with 62 percent.
Texas governor Greg Abbot won reelection with 55 percent.
Georgia governor Brian Kemp won reelection with 53 percent.
Here in Iowa, governor Kim Reynolds won reelection with 58 percent.
And the list goes on: Ohio governor Mike Dewine by 62 percent; Tennessee governor Bill Lee by 65 percent; South Carolina governor Henry McMaster by 58 percent.
And perhaps the highest profile winner was Florida governor Ron DeSantis who supported and signed pain-capable limits and a complete ban on abortions after 15 weeks. He won reelection by 60 percent.
Since reelection, he signed a heartbeat bill into law.
Stay on offense
Each of these candidates stayed on offense. That’s the key.
Pro-Life is a winning political issue when candidates force anti-life zealots to defend their extreme abortion-up-to-the-moment of birth position.
Donald Trump demonstrated the tactic in his debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016:
However, Trump has since blamed the abortion issue as the root cause of Republican underperformance in the midterm elections. Pulse questions the assessment. Prior to the Dobbs leak last year, national polling showed Republicans with a three point advantage. Come election day, House Republicans held that advantage, winning the popular vote by about three points.
Some candidates underperformed because they were weak candidates or waffled on the abortion issue. Some were clearly affected by their embrace of Mr. Trump’s stolen election claims. And many won BECAUSE of their strong pro-life positions … don’t forget that.
The dozen governors listed above demonstrated that the pro-life political issue is a winner in the hands of strong candidates who focus on the extremism of their opponents.
The human rights issue of our time
And yet conservatives like Ann Coulter put ALL the blame for electoral underperformance on the abortion issue:
“The demand for anti-abortion legislation just cost Republicans another crucial race. Pro-lifers: WE WON. Abortion is not a ‘constitutional right’ anymore! Please stop pushing strict limits on abortion, or there will be no Republicans left.”
For the record, Pulse’s only concern with party labels involves dignity of life issues. Sadly, only one party consistently supports pro-life public policy. But to Ms. Coulter’s point, the evidence we laid out above contradicts her thesis. Abortion is a winning issue when candidates set the terms of the debate, as Kim Reynolds and her fellow pro-life governors listed above all did.
For the record, Republicans can’t win any elections without the pro-life vote. That is a fact.
And for the record, the pro-life position is just, right, and moral, in contrast to abortion which kills innocent human life in the womb. So pro-Life is not just a winning political issue, it is a just issue, THE human rights issue of our time.