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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – National Democrats appear to consider stoking fear about pro-life laws their best path to retaining control of Congress this fall, according to an analysis of advertising spending conducted by the Associated Press.
The AP reports that data from the research outfit AdImpact reveals Democrats have so far spent more than $124 million in 2022 on political ads mentioning abortion, a nearly twentyfold increase over the amount they spent on the same type of ads in the 2018 midterms. What’s more, the sum is larger than the Republican Party’s “combined national investment in ads relating to the economy, crime and immigration.”
By contrast, most of the “millions” Republicans have spent on abortion ads this year were “during the primary phase of the campaign this spring and summer as Republican candidates touted their anti-abortion credentials,” according to the report, with the number of spots touching the issue having “gone down each month since May.”
The discrepancy evidences a growing tension among Republicans as to how to navigate the new political landscape where banning abortion is no longer a far-off hypothetical but an immediate possibility and a reality in many states, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June overturn of Roe v. Wade, tension that boiled over this month with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) introduction of a bill to ban abortion at 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, or physical risks to the mother.
Limiting elective abortions to the first trimester is broadly popular with the general public, and supporters of Graham’s approach argue pushing the policy will highlight the extremism of the Democrat Party, which opposes all limits on abortion.
But others fear it will distract from messaging on issues where Democrats are most vulnerable, such as crime and the economy (which voters rate as higher priorities), and that Democrats will be able to spin it as evidence of the GOP’s broader hopes of a complete ban for which public opinion is unprepared.
Regardless, Democrat messaging has forced Republicans to respond, according to Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel.
“It’s very clear that that’s the only thing that Democrats have to run on, right? They don’t run on a good economy. They can’t run on communit[ies] being safer. They can’t run on education,” she said. “So what are they going to do? They’re going to make everything about abortion, which means we’re going to have to talk about it as Republicans do” by highlighting the extremes of the Democrat position.
Properly gauging public opinion on abortion has long been hobbled by inconsistently or inaccurately-framed poll questions, popular misconceptions about what abortion laws and rulings have and have not done, and discrepancies between what voters think of the issue and how they prioritize it. Ultimately, a more accurate read of the issue will likely not become clear until voters’ reactions to newly-enforced state laws start being reflected in elections themselves.
“To win over voters open to persuasion, Republicans have work to do in conveying the gruesome nature of abortion,” writes Nate Hochman in National Review. “What that means is that Republicans need to be willing to tap into the electorate’s most visceral instincts about the issue. Pro-lifers need to remind Americans of what it is abortion does. Particularly in the post-Roe era, the confused picture that emerges from abortion polling is even less useful than it was in the past. If there’s one thing that the polling can tell us, it’s that most Americans really don’t know what to think about the issue. The task, for the pro-life movement, is to change that.”