The entire GOP has spent pretty much the last week talking about anything but the contents of the leaked Alito first draft on Roe. They’ll talk about the fact of the leak itself, they’ll talk about jailing the leaker, they’ll whine about the integrity of the court, anything but the content.
That’s because this is a losing issue for Republicans. Only the far right evangelical base loves the idea of overturning Roe v wade. Polling shows that 63% of Americans want abortion safe and legal in all or most cases, and that includes a healthy dose of GOP voters and independents. The GOP would love to soft touch the contents of the Alito draft, but it’s toxic.
And then Moscow Mitch McConnell comes along and throws gasoline on the fire. In an interview with USA Today McConnell said that if the GOP retakes power in congress, a national ban on abortion would certainly be on the table. Hell, if overturning Roe for a minority of your base is that unpopular, why not go whole hog and ban it altogether nationwide? McConnell was careful enough to say that he wouldn’t alter the filibuster to bypass cloture, hoping to keep the Democrats from doing the same thing now.
I think I know why McConnell said that, but I think he chose the wrong vehicle. I wrote yesterday that a new poll showed that overturning Roe would highly motivate 45% of the Democratic base to vote, but only 25% of GOP voters would be highly motivated to turn out. My opinion is that if Roe is overturned, the evangelical base that has slaved for 50 years to get that outcome will fade away in satisfaction. Banning abortion nationally is a carrot McConnell is holding out to try to keep the evangelical base hitched to the GOP wagon.
In my article yesterday, I used the analogy of someone slaving away for five years to get a new car, denying themselves everything else. Let’s stick with that. You finally have the cashier’s check, and you go to the dealership to get your car. Only to have the dealer tell you that you really shouldn’t get the car for another 2-3 years, until you can afford the upholstery treatment and the extended warranty. WTF?!? You slaved for that car for five years! You don’t give a shit about upholstery packages or extended warranties, you just want your wheels! And that’s how I see the evangelicals feeling.
Besides, if McConnell is true to his word, and I think he will be, this is an empty gesture, just another GOP bait and switch on the evangelicals. Here’s why. For four years Trump bashed McConnell to get rid of the filibuster to pass more of his insane shit. McConnell steadfastly refused, knowing the GOP would be back in the minority again someday. And because he did, half of Biden’s first term agenda is stalled because two Democratic senators won’t move on the filibuster. McConnell will never give away that obstructionist toy.
Nothing is more likely to energize and fire up Democratic and Independent blue and toss up states which have abortion protections built in to come out and vote like the threat of having a GOP controlled congress take them away with a national ban. And McConnell just risked that for a purely theatrical move designed to keep the evangelical base motivated instead. Don’t touch that dial.