Will abortion turn Florida from red to blue?

Democrats hope the fight for reproductive rights can turn Florida from red to blue in the fall.

Once a quintessential swing state, Florida has shifted to the right in the Trump era, with the politics of the former president and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis defining it.

Democrats think this could change because these policies go too far for voters, and they specifically point to the new law banning access to abortion six weeks into a pregnancy as a potential turning point.

“They're going to be held accountable in November, and if that means we flip a lot of seats, it's because the people of our state realize that the Republicans, the MAGA extremists, have taken us in such a dangerous direction and that they want to take us in such a dangerous direction. new leaders in the fold,” said Nikki Fried, chair of the Democratic Party of Florida.

Last week, Florida Democrats took advantage of the state's six-week abortion ban, with Vice President Harris traveling to Jacksonville on Wednesday to celebrate the event.

The Biden campaign has already deployed its state leadership team, noting in a memo that the Sunshine State is “not an easy state to win,” but is winnable for Biden.

“This is real,” said Christian Ulvert, a Florida-based Democratic strategist who served as a senior adviser to the Biden campaign in the state in 2020. “If they take these steps, it means they are getting ready to make Florida a priority.”

Meanwhile, abortion rights advocates are preparing to advance a November ballot measure known as Amendment 4, which would enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, something that has been done in other red-leaning states .

“It's part of an electoral strategy. “If you look at a big map, you see offense and defense, and there's no doubt that because of Amendment 4 in Florida, Republicans are going to be on the defensive in a way they didn't think they were,” Ulvert said.

Democrats also say they hope the issue plays a role in the Florida Senate battle between incumbent Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.).

“We have a lot of issues and challenges facing our state right now, but I can honestly tell you that we have been preparing for everything and all the traveling that I have been doing for a while. moment and it is a top-of-mind issue,” Mucarsel-Powell told The Hill. “If it's not the top concern, it's certainly the top two or three top concerns for people with different political leanings.”

Mucarsel-Powell accused Scott of supporting a national abortion ban and said abortion bans could lead to restrictions on in vitro fertilization (IVF) and contraception.

“It's extremely dangerous and we're seeing it happen all over the country,” she said.

Scott's campaign denies supporting a national ban and has pushed back against Mucarsel-Powell by portraying her position on abortion as extreme, something other conservatives and Republicans have done in response to Democratic attacks on the issue.

“Everyone knows that Senator Rick Scott supports the right to life. Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell does not. Floridians agree that reasonable limits should be placed on abortion,” said Will Hampson, spokesman for Scott's campaign. “Senator Scott has been very clear where he stands: no national bans, with the consensus 15 week restrictions on rape, incest and the life of the mother. Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell takes an extreme position and opposes any common sense restriction on abortion.”

Republicans and other political observers are skeptical that the issue will have enough impact to change the state's political makeup.

At the press conference this week, DeSantis called the idea that the Biden-Harris ticket would be competitive in Florida “a farce.”

“First of all, by Election Day, we will have a million more registered Republicans than Democrats,” DeSantis said, before hitting Democrats on inflation, the southern border and overseas conflict.

Republicans also point to Florida voters' history of electing conservative candidates and supporting left-wing ballot measures such as minimum wage and medical marijuana measures.

“I see it as entirely possible that this ballot reaches 60 percent, the threshold, and Donald Trump and Rick Scott still win the state of Florida,” said a Florida-based Republican strategist.

Either way, the Democrats have an uphill climb. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the Senate race as “likely Republican.” Former President Obama was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state in 2012, and Fried was the last statewide Democrat to win in Florida, in 2018 as agriculture commissioner. Since then, Republicans in Florida have continued to gain victories and have become an example for Republicans in other states.

Partisan and nonpartisan political observers say reproductive rights are likely to play a role in improving Democratic turnout in the state, but Republicans and neutral observers say they doubt the issue will do enough to sway Republican voters or convince independents to vote for Democrats.


2024 election coverage


“I expect Democratic turnout to increase from its low point in 2022, when Ron DeSantis won by almost 20 points,” said Aubrey Jewett, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida's School of Politics, Security and International Affairs.

However, Jewett left the door open to the possibility that higher Democratic turnout could help the party's candidates in races for the Legislature.

“It may be far-fetched to think that Joe Biden could win Florida, but it is not far-fetched to think that this will improve Democratic turnout in the election, especially compared to 2022,” he said. “And that could help some other races.”

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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