2024 will be the abortion election & Republicans are bracing for voter retribution

It didn’t take long for the panic to
set in among Republicans after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday
morning to ban virtually every abortion in the Grand Canyon State.

Suddenly, some of those who proudly
declared their anti-abortion bonafides when it was purely theoretical
were staring down a reality that wasn’t so clear cut — and is
politically disastrous.

Within an hour, one of the top Republicans in the state Senate was publicly saying the court got it wrong and lawmakers needed to work quickly to repeal the Civil War-era ban that the justices said is now the law of the land.

Minutes later, another GOP lawmaker — this one in a hotly contested swing district — declared that the decision “cannot stand” and that legislators “should be looking for ways to empower these women – not take them back in time.”

Then there was the Republican
legislator whose husband is a Supreme Court justice who voted to uphold
the 1864 abortion ban. Less than three hours after the ruling, this
pro-life lawmaker who cheered on the U.S. Supreme Court stripping abortion rights away from American women after nearly 50 years (and urged the court to do so) said that Arizona should swiftly repeal the territorial ban and allow abortion up to 15 weeks.

Suddenly, these supposedly
anti-abortion Republicans see value in “modernizing” Arizona’s election
laws. What they really mean is that they clearly see just how
politically disastrous the state Supreme Court’s ruling is.

Ironically, the anti-abortion zealots who brought this case and convinced the court to enact a law from 1864 — a time when doctors didn’t believe in washing their hands but did believe that the body contained for “humors” that needed to be balanced
for good health — may have just done more to ensure the protection of
abortion rights in Arizona than pro-choice activists ever have.

It’s almost certain that voters in
November will get to decide whether to enshrine access to abortion as a
right in the Arizona Constitution. That campaign already seemed to have a
good chance to succeed, given the strong voter support for similar
measures in states like Kansas and Ohio, both of which are decidedly
more Republican than Arizona.

After Tuesday’s ruling, it seems almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which that constitutional amendment is rejected.

“The result of the decision is to
give voters a binary choice: A total ban or abortion up to 24 week,”
said Chris Baker, a Scottsdale GOP political consultant. “Most voters
will not vote in favor of a ban. We’ve seen that in other states

“This decision is the best possible thing that could have happened to the ballot initiative.”

Abortion rights were already top of
mind for Democrats as they plan their most concerted effort ever to
wrest control of the legislature from Republicans, who have controlled
it almost exclusively for about 60 years. Now, they smell blood in the

“You better believe that we’re going
to make sure that voters know abortion is on the ballot, and that
Democratic majorities will protect abortion rights in Arizona,” said
Samantha Paisley, the national press secretary for the Democratic
Legislative Campaign Committee.

When SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade
in 2022, it was a “watershed moment” for Democratic campaign efforts,
Paisley said. The result has been Democrats winning control of
legislative chambers and governor’s offices across the country. In many
cases, reproductive rights and abortion are are the center of those

“We’re seeing the power of abortion
at the ballot. It will be a compelling case for Arizona voters,” she
said. “Abortion is on the ballot, and Arizona is the most important
battleground in 2024.”

Republican campaign consultant
Barrett Marson said Republicans are potentially walking into a buzzsaw
on abortion, and largely will lose the ability to focus on favorable
issues, like the economy and border security, because of Tuesday’s

“This will now be a one-issue
campaign. This will be an election about abortion rights, and that’s not
where Republicans want to be,” he said.

While Democrats still face an uphill
climb to win majorities in Arizona’s legislature — Republicans hold a
one-seat advantage in each chamber — Democratic campaign consultant Tony
Cani said Tuesday’s ruling means abortion will remain “a legitimate
problem” for Republicans up and down the ballot in November.

“Republicans are not going to be able to hide from this issue,” he said.

That is particularly true for those
Republicans who were in office in 2022 and voted for the 15-week ban
that the Arizona Supreme Court effectively nullified on Tuesday, citing a
legislative intent portion of the measure that declared lawmakers
didn’t want the restriction to repeal the 1864 abortion ban. That ban
couldn’t be enforced at the time, but just a few months later, SCOTUS
overturned Roe, putting that dormant law back in play.

“It’s clear that those who voted for
this 15-week ban, this was the intention,” Cani said of the revival of
the Civil War law. “And voters won’t like it when Republicans try to lie
and say it wasn’t.”

Just how important the ruling will be
on who wins in November will come down to how aggressively Democrats
campaign on the issue, Cani said. The voters who will be most motivated
by the ruling “are exactly the voters Democrats have to target” in the

Marson said those new voters
motivated by the abortion ban — many of whom will be young or first-time
voters — will turn out in “record numbers” and will boost Democrats up
and down the ballot. And he expects Democrats will largely succeed in
convincing them to boost their candidates, which in turn will expand the
map in the effort to change who controls the legislature.

“If I’m a betting man, I’d say the
odds of Democrats flipping control of at least the (state) House or the
Senate, or both, just got much better,” he said. “Before today, there
was a small chance at least one would flip. Now, it’s likely one chamber
will flip, and possible both will.”

Whether that happens will come down
to how effective campaign and candidate messaging is. But it’s clear,
Marson said, that Democrats are in the catbird seat.

“I’d much rather be a Democrat on this ballot than a Republican,” he said.