Friday, February 24, 2023


Philip Bump points out that Americans support the right to abortion in nearly every state:
PRRI conducted a huge, national poll on views of abortion, covering respondents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It found that not only that do most Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but most people in most states hold that position. Even Republicans are more than twice as likely to say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases than to say it should be banned completely.

... On average, there are 8.7 people in a state who think abortion should be legal in all or most cases for every one who thinks it should be illegal. In states that voted for Trump in 2020, the average ratio is 5.6 to 1.

... even in the most Trump-friendly states, most people support access to legal abortion. Only in seven of the 25 states Trump won in 2020 does less than half of the population support abortion access; in two others, exactly half do.
But it doesn't matter. In a referendum last year, Kansans voted 59%-41% to affirm their right to an abortion -- and then gave their vote in the attorney general's race to Kris Kobach, who has asked the state Supreme Court to ban abortion, has filed a legal brief in favor of a nationwide ban on the abortion drug mifespristone, and has pressured Walgreens to drop its plans to distribute mifepristone in the state.

In 2018, voters in Florida voted 65% to 35% to restore the voting rights of most felons who had been released from prison -- but then, after newly elected governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled legislature made it next to impossible for felons to take advantage of the law, requiring restoration applicants to pay ever-increasing fines and fees, Floridians reelected DeSantis in a landslide last year, and overwhelmingly chose Republicans for legislative seats.

This happens over and over. Voters of all political persuasions support universal background checks and assault weapons bans, but in much of the country Republicans who unalterably oppose these reforms are reelected again and again. There's similar broad support for higher taxes on rich people, yet Republicans oppose these taxes and just keep winning.

I'm thinking about all this in the context of Marjorie Taylor Greene's "national divorce" Twitter thread, which I hadn't read until this morning. We're supposed to think of Greene as extreme even by modern Republican standards, but what I see in her thread is a caricature of Democrats that's widely accepted.

She portrays "the left" as "cramming and forcing their ways on us and our children with no respect for our religion/faith, traditional values, and economic & government policy beliefs." She says that blue states after the "divorce" would be free to run "government controlled gender transition schools" and, if they chose, "Antifa communists training schools." She says blue states would be free to do what they "have been calling for all along, abolishing the police," in pursuit of "their dreams of total and complete lawlessness." She says that liberals "could live in their safe space blue states, own nothing, let their government decide and control everything, and most importantly protect their fragile minds from being shocked and insulted by those of us on the right who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

This isn't some special, uniquely Greene-ian, industrial-strength form of crackpottery. This is just a slightly flippant version of what nearly every Republican politician and right-wing pundit says about Democrats every day. It's barely distinguishable from Tim Scott's stump speech, or the Sarah Huckabee Sanders State of the Union response.

And much of America -- probably a majority of white America -- believes all this, more or less. Sure, white Americans want abortion to be legal and rich people to pay more taxes, but Democrats are just so extreme! Democrats have allowed themselves to be defined by this caricature. And so a party that most Americans don't agree with on important issues continues to be highly competitive nationwide, and dominant in much of the country.

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