Democrats could actually, seriously codify Roe
Today was my last day as a co-host of the news show Rising Fridays, so naturally we focused on whether or not the enlightenment was a mistake. (No, seriously.) Jury’s out, but it’s not looking good, if you ask me.
Starting next week, Emily Jashinsky and I will be launching our new show called Counter Points on Fridays. It’ll be part of an expanding network created by Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti under the Breaking Points banner. I think it’s a fascinating new approach to news – two people who disagree but don’t really argue, instead we just present differing views, question each other, and move on – and if you want to support it and get early and ad-free access to shows, you can do that here. It’s both a podcast – find “Breaking Points” on any podcast platform – and also a YouTube channel.
Over the past year or so, it looks like I’ve done at least 171 monologues for Rising we call “Radars,” though I think it might’ve even been more than that. Phew! Exhausting to even think about. Here they are, if any of them look interesting to go back through.
Codifying Roe for Real
Much like Uvalde, there was something about the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018 that was different for people. While so many others had been met with momentary shock before being elbowed out of the news cycle, this massacre resonated. Within days, young people around the country began mobilizing in a way they never had before.
The first indication that this upsurge might leave a lasting mark on American politics began showing up in voter registration data. Those young people who were old enough to vote began signing up to do so in record numbers. As a rule, young people are not expected to vote in midterms, but Tom Bonier and his researchers at the firm TargetSmart suspected they were seeing something meaningful, and put out an analysis suggesting that young people could change the makeup of the midterms and give Democrats an edge.
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“The public analysis we put out was met with skepticism,” Bonier told me in an interview that ran on today’s Deconstructed podcast. “And then the next phase was to look at the early vote. Well, young people were voting more and more in the early vote. Still skepticism. In the end, you fast forward to Election Day, younger people, voters under the age of 25, almost doubled their share of the electorate between 2014 and 2018.”
Now Bonier is seeing the same dynamic play out with women in the electorate, he said. “The Blue Wave doesn’t happen without younger voters. Is that the same path we’ll see with women? We don’t know. Historically when you see a surge of intensity and enthusiasm in voter registration, it does tend to then play out also in voter turnout, but there’s also several weeks to go still.”
New voters in each election cycle make up a very small portion of the total voters. Nearly everybody who votes in 2022 will also have voted in 2020. But the question is which of those 2020 voters will be fired up enough to show up again in 2022, and Bonier’s analysis, which he wrote about recently in the New York Times, strongly suggests that the electorate is again changing.
Polls in 2018 that didn’t understand that young people would make up double their share of the electorate undercounted Democratic support, and if women angered at the overturning of Roe turn out at rates like we’re seeing in special elections and in voter registration numbers, Democrats have a real chance to keep both the House and Senate. For instance, in Kansas, Bonier saw that 69 percent of new voter registrants were women following the Dobbs decision.
It’s important to underscore what that means. It’s not just that Democrats would have the ability to continue to legislate — to do something on affordable housing, for instance. If they add one senator and keep the House, that would give them the votes they need to reform the filibuster so that they can codify Roe v. Wade.
As Bonier said in our interview, Republicans are still favored to win the House, given their gerrymandered advantage, but it’s a real contest now. And holding the Senate is looking increasingly plausible. New Hampshire’s primary is this coming Tuesday, and GOP voters might nominate something of a crank, a retired General named Don Bolduc. Republicans are trying to rally around a mainstream, Chamber of Commerce-type choice instead, but if Bolduc wins, Democrat Maggie Hassan should be able to hold on. Raphael Warnock is competitive in Georgia, Mark Kelly looks pretty good in Arizona, and Mandela Barnes and John Fetterman are in decent shape in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. North Carolina seems to be on the table, too. (And Mike Lee is even in some trouble in Utah against independent Evan McMullen.)
If they can pull it off — and voters seem to sense it’s possible — the last barrier would be filibuster reform. Technically, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., has said she opposes reforming the filibuster because then Republicans when they took power could ban abortion. That is of course a real threat, and abortion rights groups have long been the among the strongest supporters of the filibuster for that reason, but they have all dropped that position amid the new political reality, namely that abortion is already banned for millions of women. Allowing the ban to stay in place in order to prevent a ban is a position so absurd it’s unlikely even Sinema could maintain it. And she’ll also be facing a likely primary challenge from Rep. Ruben Gallego, making that position even harder.
As Bonier said in our interview, Republicans are still favored to win the House, given their gerrymandered advantage, but it’s a real contest now.
Holding the Senate is looking increasingly plausible. New Hampshire’s primary is this coming Tuesday, and GOP voters might nominate something of a crank, a retired General named Don Bolduc. Republicans are trying to rally around a mainstream, Chamber of Commerce-type choice instead, but if Bolduc wins, Democrat Maggie Hassan should be able to hold on. Raphael Warnock is competitive in Georgia, Mark Kelly looks pretty good in Arizona, and Mandela Barnes and John Fetterman are in decent shape in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. North Carolina seems to be on the table, too. (And Mike Lee is even in some trouble in Utah against independent Evan McMullen.)
On the episode, I also spoke with Wichita realtor Brandi Calvert, who you may remember from this profile five years ago, headlined, “The PTA Mom Trump Unleashed on American Politics is More Radical Than You Think.” She went on to become a leading activist behind the Kansas abortion victory, and she talked about what she’s seeing on the ground, and why she wasn’t surprised they won.