Democrats seek edge with women as Michigan prepares to vote on abortion
Sitting next to her two teenage daughters at the county fair — a luxury as rising prices squeezed the family budget — Lois Smith said she was worried about the end of Roe v. Wade.
She calls herself “pro-life”; she calls President Biden a “puppet”; she wants former president Donald Trump to run again. But Smith is not sure how she’ll vote in this year’s midterm elections, as many Republican candidates in Michigan back a near-total ban on abortion that is still working through the courts.
On one thing, 52-year-old Smith was confident — she would vote to make abortion a constitutional right in her state.
“If my girls had come to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m pregnant, I don’t want to keep the baby’ … ultimately it’s going to be their decision,” Smith, who identified as an independent voter, said Friday in a small suburb of Lansing, the state capital.
A decisive victory for abortion rights in conservative Kansas — which voted overwhelmingly last week to continue guaranteeing access to the procedure in the state constitution — has galvanized Democrats hopeful that the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe will reshape the midterms by opening inroads with key voters. Michigan, a purple state with competitive races for governor and Congress, is shaping up as one of the most politically consequential battlefronts. Democrats here are working to win over women who might otherwise be inclined to vote Republican, such as Smith, and turn out base voters who have been difficult to excite, all as Republicans and antiabortion activists aim to counter their efforts.
Women in Michigan led men in new voter registrations by about seven percentage points after the Supreme Court struck down Roe, one data firm’s analysis found. In many of their highest-profile races, Republican voters have nominated candidates who embrace strict abortion bans without exceptions for rape and incest.
And a ballot measure asking whether Michigan should protect abortion in its constitution is likely to go before voters this fall, after thousands of volunteers gathered more than 750,000 signatures in support. Democrats expect that question to supercharge an issue they have already been emphasizing in their campaigns and turn out voters who will also pull the lever for their party’s candidates.