Overturning Roe could be an election “game changer,” Duke experts say

Deondra Rose and Asher Hildebrand

Deondra Rose, assistant professor at the Sanford School, and Asher Hildebrand, associate professor of the practice.

Overturning the constitutional right to abortion has the potential to shake up North Carolina elections, Duke University experts said Tuesday.

The Supreme Court’s abortion decision could transform the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina and focus national attention on legislative races this fall, they said.

Politico reported on a draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that overturns the 1973 landmark decision Roe v. Wade. The opinion concerns a Mississippi abortion law that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The draft opinion puts women’s reproductive freedom at center stage in an election year where the economy, inflation, and gas prices are top issues, said Deondra Rose, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

“This could be the issue that could mobilize young voters, certainly in the primaries and potentially in the general election in November,” Rose told reporters Tuesday.

The opinion is one that could help increase turnout for Democrat Cheri Beasley, Rose said. Beasley, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, does not face major competition in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

With trends favoring Republicans, attracting younger voters “is absolutely necessary to give, in my opinion, Democrats a fighting chance in the Senate race,” Rose said.

National political analysts have predicted Republicans will keep the U.S. Senate seat Richard Burr is vacating, Policy Watch has reported. Candidates in the crowded GOP primary include U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, former Gov. Pat McCrory, and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker.

The opinion will likely convince national groups to become active in North Carolina legislative races, said Asher Hildebrand, an associate professor of the practice at the Sanford School. Hildebrand is a former chief of staff to Democratic U.S. Rep. David Price, who is retiring.

“I do think this could be a game changer, in that it raises the perception of the stakes, especially among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters,” he said.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has vetoed anti-abortion bills, Policy Watch has reported.  Republicans hold majorities in the state House and Senate, but when they lost their veto-proof majorities in 2018, they lost the ability to override Cooper’s vetoes on their own.

Republicans are working to regain their veto-proof majorities this year.

“You can bet that a lot of the national money that would not have come to North Carolina otherwise will start coming into the election,” Hildebrand said. “For the next two years, at least, we have divided government. From the perspective of Democrats and those who are concerned about the apparent ruling that was leaked last night, preventing a Republican super-majority in the General Assembly has got to be a huge goal.”

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