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Abortion driving more women to vote in midterm elections

Posted at 4:50 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 16:50:40-04

The topic of reproductive rights will be a defining issue in the 2022 midterms.  

A recent analysis from the Democratic-leaning TargetSmart found women have been registering to vote at a higher rate than men since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. 

SEE MORE: Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade; States Can Ban Abortion

"I've never seen anything quite as dramatic as the gender gaps we're seeing in this voter registration," said Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart. 

The increase was first noticed after the Kansas primary. Bonier said the difference is easiest to spot in states where abortion access is most at risk.   

"You've got these competitive states, like Wisconsin, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, that have a lot of very important statewide and down-ballot elections this year. And where choice is very much either literally on the ballot or potentially on the ballot," Bonier said.  

It’s not unusual for women to vote at higher numbers than men. But this surge is happening at a time when experts wouldn't usually expect it.  

SEE MORE: Voter Priorities Heading Into Midterm Elections

"If those voters, those women voters get energized, get highly motivated, see that they really have a stake in the outcome of an election, their potential to be a force in elections goes up exponentially,” said Debbie Walsh, the director for the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. 

In recent polls, more Americans have said abortion is an issue that will impact their vote.  

An August Wall Street Journal poll found registered voters said abortion was the second-most important issue, ranking only behind the economy. 

"It's one thing when a right is denied. It's another thing when a right is taken away. And I think you can't overstate the impact of losing something that you thought you had, and the implications of that for the future,” said Walsh. 

This year's primaries have shown that reproductive rights can bring voters to the polls. 

In the Kansas primary, where a state constitutional amendment on abortion was on the ballot, voter turnout was 48% — about double the typical primary turnout in Kansas.

"Particularly after the Kansas vote, Democratic and pro-choice candidates are seeing that this can be a motivator. This can increase turnout. This can energize voters to show up," said Walsh.  

And without any current federal protection for reproductive rights, it's votes for state and local officials that can have the biggest impact on a woman's access to abortion.

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