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Will abortion be 'the big issue' of Florida's 2022 midterm elections?

'It's really going to come down to what is stressing people out the most,' Dr. Susan MacManus says
Posted at 6:11 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 18:11:13-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Could the U.S. Supreme Court leak on Roe v. Wade's potential overturn shake up Florida’s midterms?

Democrats hope so, but political experts aren't as convinced.

Florida Democrats have already started efforts to capitalize on the frustration following Monday's news.

Politico reported the high court may soon overturn national abortion protections.

Members are now molding a message that Election Day is a chance to protect a woman's right to choose.

"This is what Republicans stand for," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz in a Tuesday statement. "By overturning Roe v. Wade, they are severely limiting women's rights to control their own bodies and make their own health care decisions. If this report is true, the Supreme Court's decision will only embolden extremist Republicans to continue attacking the right to choose nationwide. Florida Democrats are determined to fight back against every effort to do so."

State Sen. Shevrin Jones
State Sen. Shevrin Jones believes the possibility of outlawing abortion could galvanize Democratic voters.

Progressive voter engagement groups also echoed that rallying cry, including Operation Blackout. It's a new effort helmed by state Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, who's trying to nab 40,000 new minority vote-by-mail registrations.

"You can't expect to take the country back 50 years and think you're going to progress and continue to win races," Jones said.

His group targets those under the age of 40 in non-urban areas, who often don’t vote in midterms. Abortion, Jones said, could be a powerful motivator for them.

"We have to expand the electorate by engaging and turning out millions of Black and brown voters who do not vote," Jones said. "But we have to give them something to vote for."

Polling suggests a majority of Floridians don't like the latest abortion restrictions.

A February poll by the University of North Florida found 57% of registered voters opposed the state's new 15-week ban while about 34% supported it.

Dr. Susan MacManus
Dr. Susan MacManus believes Republicans could also benefit from any sort of ruling by the Supreme Court regarding abortion.

But political experts say not so fast.

University of South Florida professor emerita Dr. Susan MacManus thinks the GOP may benefit too.

"It will be a big driver for Republican turnout because abortion is one of those issues that people feel very strongly about," MacManus said. "It's a big motivator for Republicans, who are pro-life, and it's a big motivator for Democrats who are pro-choice. Never the twain shall meet."

MacManus also notes that Republicans now have more registered voters than Democrats and often turn out in larger numbers during midterms.

She also said anything can happen between now and November. Abortion may end up an issue of the moment, lacking staying power.

"It's really going to come down to what is stressing people out the most," MacManus said. "And with a snap of a finger, a new issue can come along. But one that's always constant in terms of the mind of a voter is their economic circumstance and their family circumstance."