But when Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put forward that position in the form of a federal ban before the midterms, the proposal earned a backlash among some Republicans who viewed it, and its timing, as politically foolhardy.
Still, in the final weeks of the midterms, many Republicans embraced a central message: a 15-week limit with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. They sought to push Democrats to define their own limits on gestational age — and falsely accused them of supporting “abortion until birth” if they refused.
Robert Blizzard, a veteran Republican pollster, noted that several Republican candidates who generally opposed abortion rights won major statewide races in places including Florida, Georgia and Iowa. But elsewhere, for candidates without clearly defined personal brands, he said, “voters can use the abortion issue as a test of how compassionate they are, and how pragmatic they are, in order to solve problems and get things done.”
“There were some candidates we had running, specifically in statewide races, that just could never get past the favorability” issue with independent voters, he added.
Mr. Blizzard emphasized that it was impossible to know what issues would motivate voters in the 2024 general election. But there is little doubt, he said, that Democrats will continue to use the abortion issue against Republicans — and that in the midterms they often did so effectively.
“Every metric you would look at indicates that that energizes the left and energizes the Democratic base, which it certainly did,” he said. “In some cases, where we made the fight over other issues — whether the economy, inflation, the border, whatever else was going on in a particular state or district — we did, I think, well. But in places where we were not able to change the narrative of a race, we didn’t do well.”
“In terms of going forward,” he went on, describing the political uncertainties surrounding the issue, “I don’t think anyone has a really solid answer for it.”