Analysts: Public opinion leans pro-choice, which could benefit Democrats in 2022 midterms

In the aftermath of Monday’s bombshell leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would reverse the half-century-old Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing Americans the right to an abortion, politics experts are attempting to decipher and forecast the likely impact of such a final ruling on the 2022 midterm elections in a country where public opinion still favors abortion rights.

This morning, a trio of analysts for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the the University of Virginia Center for Politics —

Here are some excerpts from “How Abortion Might Motivate or Persuade Voters in the Midterms”:

The potential demise of Roe vs. Wade could both help Democrats generate higher turnout and appeal better to persuadable, Republican-leaning swing voters in the 2022 election who generally have a concern about women losing access to safe and legal abortion services, according to a new analysis from the University of Virginia Center for Politics/Project Home Fire data analytics project. These findings are based on Project Home Fire’s baseline survey and analysis of the attitudes of roughly 1,000 Joe Biden and 1,000 Donald Trump voters collected prior to Monday’s Politico report about a potential Supreme Court decision that could overrule Roe.

After delving into some survey details that add a great deal of nuance to the discussion, the article concludes this way:

Looking forward, it’s very much unclear what will happen with abortion in the 2022 election. For starters, we do not even know if the U.S. Supreme Court’s eventual opinion in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be the same as the one that Politico reported on earlier this week. We also know that, abortion aside, this looks like a Republican-leaning political environment, both based on history and the president’s weak approval ratings.

But our analysis does suggest that 1. The public, broadly speaking, is more supportive of abortion rights and more concerned about women’s access to abortion services than not and 2. There are voters who may be animated by Roe vs. Wade being overturned, which could give Democrats a desperately-needed shot in the arm this November given their many other political problems this year. Whether abortion would trump the concerns that persuadable voters have on other issues — such as inflation and broader economic concerns, where the Democrats appear very vulnerable — remains to be seen, but we may find out if and when the Supreme Court releases their potentially explosive actual opinion on abortion.

These findings jive with new Meredith College poll results, which show that a majority of North Carolina voters want to preserve access to abortion in our state.

In short, the news about the impending demise of Roe gives Democrats an important boost — especially if they make sure voters understand where the two sides stand on this fundamental question.

Click here to explore the entire article.

The best editorial of the weekend: Polling confirms that there’s still lots of hope for our public schools

Polling shows that there remains much reason for optimism about public schools. Image: AdobeStock

To hear denizens of the political right pontificate, you’d think that there was an overwhelming national wave of parental anger and dissatisfaction inundating America’s public education system. You’ve no doubt seen the stories of rowdy school board meetings featuring paranoid complaints about critical race theory and, God forbid, books with actual LGBTQ characters.

Turns out, the wave may be more of a ripple.

As the lead Saturday editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal explains, some fascinating new polling makes clear that, contrary to the prevailing narrative, most American parents like their kids’ schools and want policymakers to support them, not tear them down.

This is from “A hopeful report card for schools”:

According to the national poll of 1,007 parents, most respondents — Democrats and Republicans alike — generally approve of their children’s schools and what their children are being taught. By substantial margins.

They cite some concerns about the impact of the pandemic, which has caused major disruptions in school instruction and activities, but, by and large, they say, the schools have done the best they could under the circumstances.

And there was a discernible hint of optimism in most of the numbers, not anger or outrage.

“It really is a pretty vocal minority that is hyper-focused on parental rights and decisions around curriculum,” Mallory Newall of Ipsos told NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Friday.

The editorial goes on to note that things are trending in the right direction and that the pandemic has perhaps not taken as dire of a toll as has often been reported:

Most encouragingly, parents’ responses are ticking upward when compared to the results from a similar survey conducted by Ipsos for NPR in February 2021….

For instance, 76% of the parents said they were being well-informed about what their children were being taught, including controversial subjects.

Among other highlights in the poll:

Surprisingly, almost half (47%) of the respondents said that the pandemic has not disrupted their children’s education, compared to 38% in the February 2021 survey. This suggests even though students lost ground during the height of COVID, more parents believe the situation is improving.

Eighty-two percent said their child’s school has handled the pandemic well.

Despite the hopeful numbers, most parents did say their kids would benefit from more mental health counseling (are you listening, North Carolina legislative leaders?). And the editorial notes, the pandemic has clearly taken a toll — another recent survey result which found that “a majority of teenagers said they had experienced emotional abuse at home from a parent or other adult during the lockdown in 2020.”

But the bottom line is this: chill out everyone. Yes, times have been tough, but our kids and schools are (and will be) alright — especially if we give professional educators the tools and space to do their jobs. As the editorial notes in conclusion:

…what our schools could use most right now is the support of the community, not overheated rhetoric or half-baked conspiracy theories.

There is a place for constructive criticism and in fact, a need for it. But in the spirit of building up our schools, not tearing them down.

The sooner we realize it, the better.

Schools are not the enemy. And our teachers are not closet communists who hate America.

Amen. Click here to read the rest of the editorial and the other polling results it reports.

Watch the latest Crucial Conversation on the present and future of abortion rights in NC

In case you missed this past Wednesday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation — “The current and future state of abortion access in North Carolina,” a recording of the event is available below. The event featured a terrific panel of experts that included:

  • Camille Adair of the Carolina Abortion Fund is a full spectrum doula serving the Triad and surrounding areas of North Carolina since 2017. She launched herself into reproductive justice after the birth of her only child, hoping to prevent folks from encountering transitions alone.
  • Maya Hart, North Carolina Coordinator with SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, is a Black queer mama, organizer, and birth worker based in Durham, NC. Maya believes that we have the skills, knowledge and love necessary to keep our communities safe and provide the support needed to care for our babies, children, and families.
  • Ann Webb is the Senior Policy Counsel with the ACLU of North Carolina, where she advocates for civil rights and civil liberties in the NC General Assembly, the courts, and throughout the state.
  • Tara Romano, Executive Director with Pro-Choice North Carolina, has been a gender equity advocate in North Carolina for nearly two decades and has led Pro-Choice North Carolina’s efforts to achieve reproductive freedom for all since 2016.

Note that due to some technical difficulties that arose, we have re-recorded the first few minutes of the event and combined them with remainder of the program in a single video.

Tillis apparently flexing muscles in effort to target Madison Cawthorn

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis

Rep. Madison Cawthorn

North Carolina’s soon-to-be-senior U.S. senator, Republican Thom Tillis, seems to taking a more assertive role in state GOP politics now that he’s well into the second year of his second term of office.

In years past, Tillis has been conspicuous in his unwillingness to lead or buck some of the party’s more outrageous characters — most notably former President Trump, whose allies at one point seemed poised to mount a challenge against Tillis in the 2020 GOP Senate primary. In one noteworthy example from the Trump years, Tillis performed what a Washington Post columnist termed a “remarkable flip-flop” on Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” in order to help fund his border wall — first, by explicitly criticizing the scheme and then running for cover with his tail between his legs after receiving pushback from the Trump wing.

The indications of the senator’s newfound assertiveness surround his ongoing efforts to target hyper-controversial fellow Republican and loyal Trump sycophant, western North Carolina congressman, Madison Cawthorn.

On Monday, WRAL.com reported on a new GOP attack ad targeting Cawthorn:

FEC documents show the ad, “Madison Cawthorn’s Lies,” was paid for by Results for NC PAC, which is aligned with another sitting Republican, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.

Today, WRAL.com is reporting that Tillis is calling for an investigation into whether Cawthorn has been guilty of insider trading:

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is calling for an investigation into fellow North Carolina lawmaker U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn over allegations Cawthorn may have engaged in insider trading related to a digital asset named after a joke targeting President Biden.

The allegations surfaced Tuesday in the Washington Examiner, which quoted multiple watchdog groups questioning whether Cawthorn, a first-term U.S. House of Representatives member from the western part of the state, had insider knowledge when he bought the “Let’s Go Brandon” coin, a digital asset that trades for fractions of a penny.

Tillis and some other prominent Republicans are supporting a primary opponent of Cawthorn’s — state Senator Chuck Edwards — in the May 17 primary.

In the weeks ahead, it will be fascinating to see if other Republicans follow Tillis’s lead and/or whether his actions provoke any kind of blowback from the party’s far right wing — the group that comprises so much of the the base of Cawthorn’s (and Trump’s) support.

Reproductive freedom is on the line in NC

In case you missed it, be sure to check out this morning’s essay in Raleigh’s News & Observer by UNC law professor and constitutional scholar Gene Nichol. As Nichol explains in “Women’s reproductive freedom is on the ballot in North Carolina,” the U.S. Supreme Court’s impending ruling on the survival of Roe v. Wade is likely to leave the future of abortion rights in our state swaying in the wind when voters go the polls this fall.

What’s more, Nichol notes, the current composition of the General Assembly does not inspire grounds for much optimism. After noting the widespread assumption in many corners that it’s simply unfathomable that elected leaders would take away the basic human right of control over one’s own reproduction, he offers this sobering conclusion:

It’s not possible, the assumption seemingly goes, that in the United States the government will intrude so profoundly, so irrefutably, so unilaterally on our most intimate, affecting decisions. We aren’t statists, after all.

Aren’t we the ones who so profoundly mistrust the wielders of government power? Don’t we rebel at the idea of the controlling and interventionist bureaucrat? The one who will tell us, with such finality, what’s good for us and for the world?

I don’t know if most readers of this paper are actually familiar with the folks who represent them in the N.C. General Assembly. Given my odd career, I’ve come to know a lot of them. I can say, with unyielding certainty, that there are not many human rosters I would so profoundly distrust to make important decisions about my life, or the lives of my loved ones.

Like Twain put it, these budding authoritarians are convinced that “nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” Vote like your freedom depends on it. You guessed it.

Click here to read the entire essay.

And if you’d like to acquire an even fuller understanding of the state of the abortion rights debate in our state, there’s still time to register for this afternoon’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation, “The current and future state of abortion access in North Carolina.” We’ll have a stellar panel of experts that will include:

  • Camille Adair of the Carolina Abortion Fund is a full spectrum doula serving the Triad and surrounding areas of North Carolina since 2017. She launched herself into reproductive justice after the birth of her only child, hoping to prevent folks from encountering transitions alone.
  • Maya Hart, North Carolina Coordinator with SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, is a Black queer mama, organizer, and birth worker based in Durham, NC. Maya believes that we have the skills, knowledge and love necessary to keep our communities safe and provide the support needed to care for our babies, children, and families.
  • Ann Webb is the Senior Policy Counsel with the ACLU of North Carolina, where she advocates for civil rights and civil liberties in the NC General Assembly, the courts, and throughout the state.

And moderator:

  • Tara Romano, Executive Director with Pro-Choice North Carolina, has been a gender equity advocate in North Carolina for nearly two decades and has led Pro-Choice North Carolina’s efforts to achieve reproductive freedom for all since 2016.

Click here to learn more about and register for this event.