Why the threat to Roe may not save Democrats in 2022

But in the days since the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on a case from Mississippi, a more sober and nuanced assessment has begun to settle in. Interviews with more than a dozen Democratic strategists, pollsters and officials reveal skepticism that the court’s decision will dramatically alter the midterm landscape unless — and perhaps not even then — Roe is completely overturned. Privately, several Democratic strategists have suggested the usefulness of any decision on abortion next year will be limited, and some may advise their clients not to focus on abortion rights at all…

Roginsky, who began her career as a researcher at the pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List, said it’s possible abortion rights will resonate more next year if the Supreme Court completely overturns Roe rather than paring it back. But she said, “Every time we’ve run on issues like women’s health, they have polled through the roof. But … they have been completely ineffective at getting voters to the polls. There’s a difference between something that polls really well, and something that gets voters to the polls. And that is what a lot of people are confusing.”

Reasons to be hesitant about Roe’s role in the midterms are plentiful. While a majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in most cases and pollsters saw the issue rise as a motivating factor for Democrats after the Texas case, abortion does not appear to be a top priority to voters overall. In an Economist/YouGov poll last month, abortion ranked behind taxes and government spending, health care, climate change and the environment, immigration and jobs and the economy as an issue of significance. That’s in line with exit polling from both 2016 and 2020, when the stakes on abortion and the Supreme Court could not have been more clear.