Friday, January 20, 2023


Donald Trump put three anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court, and those justices made it possible for the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But Trump is now at odds with the anti-abortion movement. On January 1, he posted this at Truth Social:

Did that diminish his appeal to GOP voters? Apparently not. In three YouGov polls and two Morning Consult polls taken since that message was posted, Trump has retained a double-digit lead over all challengers in a multi-candidate field. We'll see what happens after the remarks he made this week:
“Nobody has ever done more for Right to Life than Donald Trump. I put three Supreme Court justices, who all voted, and they got something that they’ve been fighting for 64 years, for many, many years,” Trump said in an interview on Real America’s Voice Monday, referring to the overturning of federal abortion rights.

“There’s great disloyalty in the world of politics and that’s a sign of disloyalty,” Trump told conservative journalist David Brody.
And, of course, the #2 candidate -- #1 in many head-to-head polls -- is Ron DeSantis, who's also not the most hardcore abortion opponent, although his willingness to restrict abortion, like Trump's, goes quite far:
A spokesman for Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota has accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida of “hiding” behind his state’s ban on abortion past 15 weeks of pregnancy, while Ms. Noem has promoted her “aggressive” record on abortion restrictions.

“Talking about situations and making statements is incredibly important, but also taking action and governing and bringing policies that protect life are even more important,” she said recently on CBS News.

And Mr. DeSantis, who shied away from addressing abortion for most of the fall campaign, has said he is “willing to sign great life legislation” and has not ruled out support for a six-week ban.
On reproductive rights, all of these people are terrible. But some are worse than others, and the absolute worst ones aren't getting any traction in the early polls. Trump is responsible for the loss of Roe, but he talks about that victory as if it was nothing more than the result a deal he cut for evangelical support. (Which is accurate.) His opposition to an an absolute ban on abortion seems genuine.
According to some rather sensational leaked official notes in [Britain's] Daily Telegraph ... Trump has said he regards abortion as ‘such a tough issue’.

Addressing the then British prime minister Theresa May, ... Trump said in January 2017: ‘Imagine some animal with tattoos raping your daughter, and then she gets pregnant.’

... According to the notes, Trump also pointed to Mike Pence, the Vice President and devout Christian, and said, ‘He’s a really tough one on abortion.’
That was reported in September 2020. Trump still got 74 million votes a couple of months later. Among registered Republicans surveyed in the most recent Morning Consult poll, Trump is at 48%. "The tough one" on abortion, Mike Pence, is at 8%. (Kristi Noem is at 1%.)

And DeSantis, who isn't ruling out signing a six-week abortion ban but undoubtedly has enough sway over his state's legislature to prevent one from coming to his desk, is at 31%. That means that he and Trump combine for nearly 80% of the primary vote, despite positions on abortion that anti-abortion absolutists would regard as wobbly. So GOP base voters are clearly not as extreme on abortion as they are on, say, immigration or drag queen story hours.

DeSantis is obviously trying to use weasel words to avoid committing to either a hardcore or not-hardcore position on the issue. When he says he's “willing to sign great life legislation,” he's not committing to signing a six-week ban. And yet he and Trump dominate the field, not Pence and Noem.

Republicans will continue to restrict abortion at the state level, and probably at the federal level if they win a trifecta in 2024. That's true even though most of their own voters don't seem to care all that much about the issue.

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