Republicans made massive gains with independent women in recent weeks as Democrats ramped up their messaging on abortion ahead of the midterm elections.
Forty-nine percent of voters plan to vote for the Republican nominee to represent their House district while 45 percent said they’d back their Democratic opponent, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday. Of particular note was a 32 point swing among independent women toward the GOP. In September’s iteration of the poll, Democrats boasted a 14 point lead among that demographic, but by October, Republicans held an 18 point advantage.
While Democratic officials and progressive commentators had suggested that the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade might lessen the expected electoral blow of the midterms, the swing toward the GOP among independent women — the group most heavily targeted by Democratic strategists — suggests that their focus on abortion might be to their own detriment.
In a TV segment last month, Republican operative Matt Gorman was rebuked by his fellow panelists for suggesting that abortion “is not in the top four of issues.”
Yamiche Alcindor of PBS and NBC insisted that on the campaign trail “abortion comes up 90 percent of the time” when she speaks with voters. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat and former senator who lost her re-election bid in 2016, shouted over other guests to declare “I hope Matt keeps saying that everywhere he goes — that abortion isn’t really an issue here in this election. I think it is exactly what infuriates women when they hear that.”
According to a study conducted by AdImpact, Democrats spent 73 million on messaging ads about abortion in September, which is “about a third of all Democratic television ad spending,” per NPR.
Twenty-six percent of voters in the Times/Siena poll identified the economy as the most important issue facing the country today. That was followed by inflation (18 percent), other (9 percent), the state of democracy (8 percent), immigration and abortion (five percent apiece), and then political division (four percent).
Only 24 percent of voters said the country was on the right track, while 64 percent indicated the opposite. Democrats presently hold the White House and majorities in both chambers of Congress, and President Joe Biden’s approval rating is nearly 20 points underwater.
The poll of 792 likely voters nationwide was conducted from October 9-12. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 points.