Well, it actually happened. After 49 years, Roe v. Wade is gone. To be upfront, I don’t really care that much about abortion. It is not an issue that motivates me. Nevertheless, its downfall is a big event. It is the culmination of half a century of work for some people, the manifestation of a 50-year nightmare for others. One would think that Roe’s downfall would radically alter the electoral equation. It won’t. My prediction remains a Republican +6-8 environment in 2022, with about 30-35 seats gained in the House and a 3-4 gain in the Senate. Beyond 2022, all the long-term problems the Democratic Party faces remain unchanged.
Why? Why won’t this monumental legal shift change Democratic fortunes?
#1 The Normal Midterm Penalty
Incumbent presidents usually see their party lose about 20-25 seats in a midterm, especially a first-term midterm, regardless of the environment. The only exceptions since the Civil War were in 1934, during the height of the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s realigning victory of 1932, 1998, when the attempt to impeach Bill Clinton was backfiring in the midst of a historically strong economy, and 2002, in the wake of September 11th and extremely high approval for George W. Bush’s leadership in its aftermath. Even in those three years, the incumbent party’s seat gain was modest, in single digits. No Supreme Court decision of any kind has changed this.
Brandon does not have the charisma and talent of Franklin Roosevelt or Bill Clinton, to say the least, nor is he presiding over a great economy or in the aftermath of a foreign attack on the country. Roe’s downfall won’t change this historic midterm architecture.
#2 The Brandon Economy
And this won’t be a normal midterm, because in the first place, the economy of 2022 sucks. With the highest inflation of most Americans’ lifetimes and the economy in or near recession, it is guaranteed to not be a normal midterm, regardless of who was in the White House.
Those who say that the end of the federal abortion mandate will suddenly make the election about something other than the economy don’t understand the business of politics.
It’s the economy, stupid. It’s ALWAYS the economy.
“#3 What’s Focal is Causal”
Because we typically allot special attention to the true causes around us, if we see ourselves giving such attention to some factor, we become more likely to think of it as a cause. (pg. 51)
Cialdini goes on to say that the “what’s focal is causal” factor is probably a reason why the gap between CEO and employee pay has grown over the years. Because the CEO gets more focus, the company’s success (or failure) is attributed to him.
It’s for this same reason the President of the United States gets assigned praise or blame for the country’s direction, including for things outside of presidential control.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, their most focal figure is a hapless dementia patient that brings a new humiliation each day he’s in office.
Roe’s fall is focal for now, but it won’t be for long, because it won’t be more visible than the President of the United States and how he reacts to the country’s ongoing decay. Afghanistan was such a debacle for the Brandon regime because it was such a visual event with the weakling dementia patient as the focus. It implanted images that no one ever forgot, even after it left the news cycle. Brandon was indelibly associated with weakness and incompetence.
A Supreme Court case is simply not the same. It is not focal enough to change the equation.
And no, there is not going to be an epidemic of “coat hangers.”
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#4 Unfavorable Demographics
For the last decade, we were told that there was an emerging Democratic majority. This article of faith was the root of all leftist misbehavior in that time. Then the 2020 election came and blew that faith up. Those results have only accelerated in 2021 and 2022. This didn’t come as a surprise to me. I have said since 2014 that the Democratic coalition was highly unstable. Suddenly, Democrats are the ones that have the demographic problem, and Roe’s downfall is either neutral or even net negative for them.
Point being: Democrats have rapidly become the party of woke white college educated women. That demographic drives the party. The more it does, the more it alienates all the other demographics. Black voters will continue to support Democrats for cultural (not policy) reasons, but other groups are not as attached.
Roe’s downfall will undoubtedly galvanize white college educated women. They are extremely reliable voters and donors. The problem is that no other demographic sees abortion as such an important issue. The more Democrats cater to them and their neuroses, the more out of touch they will be with everyone else, who have more important priorities. In fact, it might even shift Hispanics further right.
Abortion consistently ranks low in issue polling. It will rise in the aftermath of the ruling because of the elevated attention it’s getting (attention is importance, as seen in Pre-Suasion chapter two), but over time it will revert close to its mean. There will be no abortion coalition that dramatically changes the equation for Democrats.
#5 “The Science”
Democrats once had a decided advantage on the abortion issue. “My body, my choice” was a simple and salient rallying cry. This advantage has diminished, if not vanished, however. As you would expect, we have bodies of scientific research about pregnancy and fetal development that were not available in 1973.
Modern science has revealed much about fetal viability, how fetuses can feel pain earlier than imagined, how fetuses get defensive during abortion procedures, and so on. Naturally, this revelation makes abortion harder to justify or support. The result is that Glenn Youngkin actually had the advantage with abortion-based voters in last year’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, for example.
To be clear, most Americans still want abortion to be legal in some capacity, but the emotional resonance is not as decisive for Democrats as it used to be.
#6 The Crazy Penalty
To reiterate, most Americans want abortion to be legal in some capacity, but they want it to be rare and limited to the first trimester. Bill Clinton, political genius that he was, knew exactly what he was doing when he said “safe, legal, and rare.” Many things have changed since Clinton’s time, but this has not.
The problem for Democrats is that they now support abortion up to birth and, moreover, have turned it into a badge of honor. Think of slogans like “shout your abortion” and other such things. That’s further from Bill Clinton’s position than most Republicans.
The problems get worse for Democrats. Their inevitable overreacton to the ruling, with woke college-educated white women leading the charge will remind voters of why they’re turning from Democrats in the first place.
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) June 25, 2022
As a rule, the media will also encourage and reward the extremists on the left. In contrast, the penalties – legal, social, and economic, of being an extremist on the right, are far more severe.
The result is that Democrats will probably lose the battle of public perception. Republicans just need to not be Christian extremists and they will win. So far, they have not been.
#7 Bad Timing, No Shock Value
Thanks to the leak in May, there was no shock value to Roe’s downfall. Everybody knew this was coming for nearly two months. As a result, the decision has left little unrest. Democrats might get a small bump with the elevated attention, but attention will shift elsewhere, especially when people inevitably find out that the Supreme Court did not just “ban” abortion.
Democratic fortunes only deteriorated in the weeks after the leak. We are now in the summer. Most voting decisions get locked in by Memorial Day. Roe’s fall might change a few minds, particularly in state legislative races where it actually matters the most, but most people who have decided to vote Republican this year have already locked that decision in subconsciously. It is extremely difficult to change that basic decision past Memorial Day, first and foremost because people like to be consistent with themselves. Moreover, all of the underlying conditions that created Democrats’ problems (inflation, the border, crime, etc.) will remain in place, or worsen.
As such, my prediction remains unchanged. Perhaps Democrats get the lower end of the wipeout, but that’s the best they can hope for.
#8 Cheap Contraception
2022 is not 1973. Contraception is abundant, easily obtainable, and anonymous. As a result, abortions have steadily declined since the mid-1980s. Avoiding an unwanted pregnancy is not a hard thing to do these days. Hence, abortion’s decline as an issue of first-rate importance to most people. The end of Roe won’t change this reality. Therefore, abortion is not a daily quality of life issue.
#9 “My Body, My Choice – LOL”
“My body, my choice” used to be a powerful calling card, but Democrats have tanked their credibility on this argument. For over two years, Democrats imposed insane mask and vaccine mandates, despite their clear lack of effectiveness. Indeed, some mandates remain in June 2022, particularly on children. To now suddenly turn around and pull out the old slogan can only elicit a reaction of laughter. It certainly won’t change votes. Now that they need it, it is no longer available. Democrats have only themselves and their arrogance to blame.
#10 “What is a Woman?”
This might be the most amusing one of all. The phrase of course comes from the Daily Wire’s hit movie.
Abortion used to be tied up as a women’s rights issue. Yet, for years, Democrats have undermined women’s rights by gleefully promoting biological men to squat in their spaces. Worse, they have punished women who object to this.
So how can they claim to defend women’s rights? Indeed, Democrats can’t even define what a woman is anymore.
Again, they have no one but themselves to blame. Now that they need the rallying cry, they can’t convincingly use it. There are consequences to coddling the most extreme forces in your party, in the arrogant belief that victory will always be won. Democrats have done it for a decade and now they are beginning to pay a heavy price. 2022 represents the first real counteroffensive against the left in my adult lifetime (as I predicted last Christmas). Roe’s downfall won’t change their fortunes this year.
And more is yet to come.
For more, see Stumped, which came in 2016 and predicted the evolution of political parties since. Some of it is outdated and I was probably wrong about Democrats because I was too optimistic about their evolution, but it still largely holds up.
Click here to get it.
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