SCOTUS ruling on abortion likely to have little impact in Texas | Don’t miss it
AUSTIN — National reports in conservative states reveal that people, and women in particular, are registering to vote in droves following the controversial June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found access to Abortion is not a constitutional right.
In Texas, that’s probably not the case.
According to state data, Texas has added about 350,000 net new voters since the March primaries — representing not only voters who were added, but also those who were dropped — with about 17.5 million registered voters in mid-September. The increase in the total number of voters is not far removed from previous trends in midterm election registration; in 2018, Texas added approximately 544,000 net new voters between the primary and general elections.
Sam Taylor, assistant secretary of state for communications, said that because Texans still have until Oct. 11 to register to vote, he anticipates the final tally will likely be “on par with previous cycles.”
Demographic information such as gender identification is not routinely collected by the state, Taylor said.
But recent database queries revealed that before the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling, about 50.79% of registered voters in Texas identified as women. Of the 309,112 people who have registered to vote or updated their registration since June 25, 152,335, or just under half, identified as women.
“The gender field in the voter registration application is entirely optional – not required to become a registered voter. So we don’t necessarily have data for everyone if they don’t list their gender on their application,” Taylor said, adding that the numbers also include people who simply updated their voter registration.
TEXAS AND ABORTION
Texas has been at the forefront of restricting access to abortion in the country.
Last fall, the state enacted its controversial heartbeat law, making it illegal to help someone have an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. It’s usually around six weeks pregnant, or before many people know they’re pregnant.
When the Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in late June, nearly all abortions in the state were stopped. A so-called trigger law came into effect in August, making it a second-degree felony for anyone who knowingly performs, induces or attempts an abortion unless the life of the pregnant person is in danger.
Following the Dobbs decision, Democrats in Texas — especially those running at the state level — used it as a rallying cry, hoping anger will drive voters to the polls.
Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Governor Greg Abbott, made frequent references to abortion laws during his statewide tour.
“There’s a referendum on reproductive health care freedom in Texas: it’s called the gubernatorial race,” O’Rourke said during the campaign trail. “You can either vote for Greg Abbott, who signed a bill that bans abortion from conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest, or you can vote for me because I’ll have my back. of every woman in Texas to make her own decisions about her own body and her own future.
Even political action committees like Mothers Against Greg Abbott have funded ads highlighting state abortion laws and what they say is extreme government overreach.
Ike Hajinazarian, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, said recent polling data informs the surge in voters ahead of the election.
A poll by Planned Parenthood Texas Votes found that about 60% of Texas voters think abortion should be available in all or most cases, with about 11% of Texans saying they want abortion. Abortion is prohibited in all cases.
A second poll by The Texas Politics Project found that 49% of respondents say abortion laws in Texas should be made ‘less stringent’, while only 12% say abortion should never be allowed. .
“The tiny far-right fringe of the Republican Party that Governor Abbott is appealing with this extremist ban is already a highly motivated contingent. In contrast, as Texas Democrats, we attract and motivate the overwhelming majority of the population with our wildly popular position of giving women reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy,” Hajinazarian said.
A recent poll also led Gilberto Hinojosa, president of the Texas Democrats, to urge local Democratic leaders to listen to what voters are telling them.
“The statistics on this moment are unequivocal in what they signal – and as Democrats in Texas, we have a political obligation to respect this moment and channel the righteous anger and frustration of Texas women into action,” Hinojosa said. “We have to move mountains to register every eligible woman to vote. We must do everything in our power to make it as easy as possible for every eligible Texas woman to vote.
Texas abortion opponents say they are unfazed.
Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate for Texas Right to Life, said her organization isn’t worried the Dobbs decision could impact the party at the ballot box. She said she believes the outcome of the Aug. 2 election in Kansas — where voters rejected a measure that would have affirmed there is no abortion right in the state constitution — is not a good indicator of what future abortion votes will look like around the world. country.
Although there have been reports of more people registering to vote following the Dobbs ruling, Parma said she believes there is a difference between registering to vote and actually vote.
“We are interested in seeing how abortion will impact the election results, but I think it will motivate Republicans and Democrats alike to come out and vote for their elected officials and candidates who will continue to support laws that save lives. lives,” Parma said. .
Amy O’Donnell, director of communications for Texas Alliance for Life, said she thinks Texas “stays true to its roots.”
“Texas is largely pro-life,” O’Donnell said. “When the election comes, we will see that reflected at the ballot box.”
COULD DOBBS CHANGE TEXAS?
While state Democrats are ramping up their discussions on abortion, Republicans are slowing it down, often shifting the focus to border security and the economy.
Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Texas Republican Party, brushed off the role the Dobbs decision could play in the upcoming election. He said what will bring people to the polls is their concern about whether they can feed, clothe and educate their children.
“The GOP has widened its lead since Dobbs because Texans see an open border, record crime and inflation levels for the first in a generation, while Democrats are ignoring these issues and pushing unrestricted abortion to the limit. at birth as their main problem in motivating the more radical elements of their base,” Rinaldi said.
Daron Shaw, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said while he thinks Democrats’ focus on abortion is the best campaign strategy, it’s unlikely to be enough to overturn the blue state.
While Democrats have found themselves competitive this election cycle, Shaw said few Texans believe abortion is the No. 1 issue in the state. For this reason, he said, Texas Democrats should not only repeat the abortion rights narratives, but also tie them to an overarching theme on the Republican Party platform if they are to succeed. at the polls.
“In Texas, the default Republican advantage is currently between five and 10 points for statewide races,” Shaw said. “Is Dobbs enough to overturn what would likely be an extra eight to ten point win? I’m really skeptical about this.