The mysterious politics of abortion

The politics of abortion works against Republicans, goes the mantra this campaign cycle. Pundits all assert the pro-choice position is a winning issue, THE single issue upon which Democrats should run.

Some Republicans agree. This blog has pointed out the tepid pro-life rhetoric used by two of the three leading Republican candidates for president, Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. But is the pro-life issue really a losing issue?

If restrictive legislation on abortion was so bad, obviously people would migrate from overly pro-life states to states with few, if any, abortion restrictions. In fact, the exact opposite has occurred.

Today’s Wall Street noticed the migratory trend:

Leading the boom were Texas (473,453), Florida (365,205), Georgia (116,077), South Carolina (90,600) and Tennessee (77,512). Driving their growth was migration from other states.

Eight states saw population declines, with the biggest in New York (-101,984), California (-75,423) and Illinois (-32,826). They can blame population flight. California lost the most residents to other states (-338,371), followed by New York (-216,778), Illinois (-83,839), New Jersey (-44,666), Massachusetts (-39,149) and Maryland (-30,905).

The Journal believes the root cause of the Blue State exodus is high taxes. Pulse acknowledges that taxes and other factors play a role in the complex issue of demographic movement. Interestingly, though, the Journal didn’t mention the night and day contrast between the winning and losing states when it comes to abortion.

Let’s take a deeper dive.

Winning states’ abortion laws

Texas: Banned, except in cases involving the Mother’s health

Florida: Heartbeat Law

Georgia: Heartbeat Law

South Carolina: Banned at 6 weeks

Tennessee: Banned, with limited exceptions

Losing states’ abortion laws

New York: unqualified right up to 24 weeks

California: viability, with broad exceptions

Illinois: viability, with broad exceptions

New Jersey: no limits

Massachusetts: 23 weeks and 6 days

Maryland: no limits

To review, people are flocking to states that restrict abortion to 6 weeks or less at the same time they are fleeing states that allow it up to 21 weeks and beyond.

If these demographic trends continues, says the Journal, these pro-abortion states will lose 12 Congressional seats in the 2030 reapportionment. 

Maybe abortion isn’t the losing issue conventional wisdom proclaims.

Interestingly, the most pro-life candidates for governor mopped the floor with their pro-abortion rivals in 2022:

Pro-life candidates who remained on offense by promoting gestational limits on abortion enjoyed great success.

Pro-Life winners in 2022

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.

So what’s mysterious about the politics of abortion is why so many on both sides of the aisle seem to think it’s a losing issue.

[The map above shows those states with a total abortion ban. Here in Iowa, the legislature has passed a Heartbeat Bill twice and awaits the imprimatur of the Iowa Supreme Court this summer to begin enforcing it.]