In a new piece over at The American Prospect, I look at how the political winds have shifted enough that we now have a Democratic political candidate (i.e. President Obama) using abortion as a wedge issue to attack a Republican. In recent years, abortion politics has mostly been a tactic to rally the base, but it looks like the Obama team is trying to change that. And they might be successful:
For most Americans, the abortion question is not all-or-nothing—it’s about where one draws the line. Opinion polling on abortion is highly sensitive to phrasing; despite a majority of the country identifying as “pro-life,” polls also consistently show that a majority of respondents supports access to abortion in at least some circumstances. Politicians have been walking this tightrope for years—“I’m personally pro-life but believe in a woman’s right to choose”; “I believe the issue should be left up to the states to decide”; “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” With the GOP moving further to the right, a wider space has opened for Democrats to pick up abortion moderates. As Ed Kilgore wrote in Washington Monthly earlier this year, if a woman’s right to choose continues to be eroded around the country, it could become more likely that the quiet pro-choice sentiments of the American majority will emerge as a political force.
It’s not in the article, but I also just saw a new poll that has Obama doing more than 20 points better than Romney among women in Ohio, one of the states in which Obama’s new abortion-centered ad is airing.