Democrats losing Black voters over abortion

AP Photo/John Raoux

Congressional Democrats have been betting large on pro-abortion policies being a winner for them in the midterms during an otherwise dismal year of polling for their party. States moving to impose abortion restrictions have been their primary targets as candidates attempt to scare their voters into showing up at the polls to “stop the Republican menace.” There are suggestions that this strategy may work in some places, at least to a certain extent. But some new analysis coming out of Wisconsin this week suggests that the Democrats may be overplaying their hand with one of their key voting blocks. Black voters are not nearly as invested in legalized abortion as their white counterparts in the Democrats’ ranks. And with the Dems already hemorrhaging support in the Hispanic community, they really can’t afford to start losing Black voters at this point. (Associated Press)

Facing critical races for governor and U.S. Senate, Democratic hopefuls in Wisconsin are hoping that their support for abortion rights in the face of a Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade can overcome the headwinds of a midterm election long expected to favor Republicans. But there’s one key group their strategies might fail to mobilize: Black voters.

An issue with strong support from white Democrats is more complicated in the Black community, especially among churchgoers who hold more conservative views on abortion. The topic is so fraught that most community organizers avoid bringing it up.

“Among the Black Baptist church alone, that would split us in half,” said David Liners, executive director of WISDOM, a faith-based organizing group with a statewide presence, when asked why his group isn’t organizing around abortion.

A spokeswoman for Milwaukee-based Souls to the Polls is quoted as calling the subject “taboo” in the churches where she organizes get-out-the-vote drives. It’s simply not something that is brought up, and on the rare occasions when it is, it is not well received. The numbers from AP-Votecast indicate that white Democrats are measurably more likely than either Black or Hispanic Democrats to agree with the statement that abortion should be legal “in all or most cases.”

The probably shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Both Black and Hispanic Democrats are also significantly more likely to describe themselves as religious and regular churchgoers than white Democrats. And given how well pro-abortion views tend to play in churches (read “not very well at all”) it’s not shocking to see those opinions reflected in this fashion along racial lines.

Democratic Governor Tony Evers seems to be running on abortion as the major plank in his reelection platform this summer. He is boasting about the number of GOP-sponsored bills that would limit abortion access he has vetoed. Keep in mind that Evers only won his office by a single percentage point last time and he carried a huge percentage of the Black vote during a surging year for Democrats. We shall see if his instincts are correct this time around.

One Black, Democratic state senator told the AP that she isn’t running on the issue when she’s out knocking on doors. Most people want to talk to her about the economy, crime, the cost of living, and inflation. She’s willing to discuss abortion access if the constituent brings it up first, but it doesn’t sound as if it’s near the top of the list in her district.

The divide probably isn’t as stark as it is on other issues, but this could easily be seen as yet another example of the Democratic Party taking the Black vote in the United States for granted. They do this cycle after cycle, often without producing much in the way of results on issues of concern to the Black community. Simply assuming that everyone with a Democratic registration form supports unlimited abortion access may turn out to be a significant tactical error. And if that’s the case, Democrats’ fears of a looming red wave may be just as justified as they seemed a few months ago.

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David Strom 4:01 PM on October 05, 2022