This month’s off-year election was not a success for Republicans.
The gubernatorial and legislative showdowns, as well as the results of several high-profile referendums, provided a rush of adrenaline for Democrats, but a warning for Republicans as they look ahead to the 2024 presidential election and elections for control of Congress. It could also be a sign.
Clearly, it was the combustible issue of legalized abortion that bothered Republicans at the polls for the second year in a row.
Key takeaways from the 2023 election
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has said since this month’s election results that “we need to have a conversation about abortion.”
McDaniel said Republican candidates “are not responding to Democrats’ lies about abortion. We must speak up and make our position clear.”
This month’s election results mark the first statewide debate on abortion rights since last year’s blockbuster decision by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the nearly half-century-old landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. It was the latest in a number of victories. Abortion nationwide.
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The decision sent the conflicting issues back to the states. And Republicans are being forced to mount a huge defense in elections across the country. A party that is almost entirely pro-life has had to deal with an electorate where a majority of Americans support at least some form of access to abortion.
Democrats have made abortion a key part of their message in Kentucky’s gubernatorial showdown, Virginia’s legislative race, Pennsylvania’s battleground Supreme Court race and Ohio’s abortion-rights referendum. And Democrats won all of these states.
But Karl Rove, a veteran Republican strategist and Fox News contributor who masterminded former President George W. Bush’s two White House victories and served as the White House’s top political adviser, said he has no plans for an abortive response to this month’s election. The impact of this is overstated.
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“Abortion may have helped Democrats at times, but this issue is not a silver bullet,” Loeb wrote in an essay last week. wall street journal Opinion article.
Targeting President Biden’s political weaknesses, Rove said, “As Virginia showed, as long as Biden is the face of the party, pro-life candidates can move into Democratic territory if they carefully raise the issue of abortion.” You can make a profit from it.” . ”
But Democrats see the abortion issue as a continued “mobilizing” factor to energize their base and attract key swing and moderate voters.
Maria Cardona, a veteran strategist and Democratic National Committee member, pointed to last year’s midterm elections in which Democrats overperformed, saying the 2023 results are “like what happened in 2022, when everyone was predicting a red wave.” It was similar to what happened,” he told Fox News.
Ahead of next year’s contest, Cardona predicted that abortion “will continue to be a very big issue that mobilizes people.”
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David Kochel, a longtime Republican strategist, said abortion remains a “terrible issue” for Republicans.
“They are out of step with the current state of the country” on this issue, he said.
Kochel, a veteran of numerous presidential elections and statewide campaigns in Iowa, acknowledged that the Republican Party “cannot win on the abortion issue,” and told Republican candidates, “We will fight where we can win, such as the economy, foreign policy, and ability.” ” he urged.
McDaniel said in an interview with Fox News Digital and other news outlets the night after this month’s election that Republicans need to push back harder against Democratic attacks over their positions on abortion.
“If you’re told a lie behind $30 million and you don’t respond, that lie becomes true. That’s the Democratic strategy, and our candidates have to answer on TV,” she said.
“As suburban women leading our party, we have to talk about abortion,” McDaniel added. “If we don’t go on TV and make ourselves clear on this issue and let the Democrats do it, that’s a losing strategy.”
Get the latest on the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more with Fox News Digital’s Election Hub..