Seven states where Democrats plot to use abortion as winning strategy

Abortion is once again expected to play a major role in 2024 as House Democrats lean on the playbook they used last cycle to attack vulnerable Republicans whose seats are key to control of the lower chamber. 

But the addition of ballot measures that will determine access to the procedure in as many as seven states is buoying Democratic hopes that the messaging will be even more potent come November.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is planning to ensure abortion is top of mind for voters as they target 18 GOP-held House districts across seven states that could hold referendums related to the issue, according to a memo distributed by the group on Friday. The DCCC will seek to highlight Republican candidates’ stances on abortion and tie them to calls for a national ban as part of its strategy, hoping to repeat Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the 2022 midterm elections. 

“Reproductive freedom will remain a driving issue for voters this November, putting vulnerable House Republicans and GOP candidates on the hook for their anti-abortion and anti-freedom positions,” the memo states. 

Democrats are confident in their ability to appeal to independent and even Republican voters on protecting abortion access, with the DCCC pointing to recent abortion referendum measures that drove voter turnout. 

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2022, more than half a dozen states have held ballot measures on access to the procedure, with anti-abortion organizers losing in each case.

The National Republican Congressional Committee did not respond to a request for comment, but Republicans generally counter that candidate elections are far different than single-issue campaigns and that the economy, not abortion, will be top of mind for voters come November.

The memo comes in response to a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that allowed a measure to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution to be added to the 2024 ballot. The Sunshine State is one of several where activists are pursuing similar efforts, prompting the DCCC to target incumbent Republicans in those delegations. 

The states where referendums have been added or are likely to be added are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, and New York.

The measure in Arizona is similar to that of Florida, seeking to block the state from banning abortion unless the pregnancy is deemed viable. Activists secured the required signatures needed to add the measure to the ballot just last week. 

Colorado poses a unique challenge for both sides, as there are dueling proposals for the 2024 ballot. One proposal would seek to amend the state constitution to protect access to abortion, which would require the support of 55% of voters. The other would seek to implement a law that would ban abortion access throughout pregnancy, which would only require a simple majority to pass. 

Both proposals have April deadlines to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot. 

New York has a slightly different proposal on the ballot that would seek to bar discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or pregnancy outcome that would be part of a larger discrimination constitutional amendment. It does not mention abortion specifically, and the procedure is already legal in the state until viability. 

The DCCC will especially focus on seven vulnerable incumbents in Arizona, New York, Nebraska, Montana, and Florida who not only face abortion measures on the ballot but have also signed on to a budget proposal by the Republican Study Committee that endorses the Life at Conception Act.

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Those lawmakers are Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ), Nick LaLota (R-NY), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), and Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL). 

“As ballot initiatives to protect abortion rights keep this issue at the forefront of voters’ minds, vulnerable Republicans will have to face the consequences for their unpopular anti-abortion, anti-freedom records,” the memo states. “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee remains committed to calling out vulnerable House Republicans across the battlefield — and will continue to do so from now until Election Day.”

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