Abortion support drove women to vote, but Congress unlikely to pass any new laws

Support for abortion rights drove women to the polls in midterm elections, helping Democrats to deny Republicans the sweeping victory they had expected nationwide.

But President Joe Biden said Monday that Democrats still lack the votes needed to codify abortion rights into law despite his party’s stronger-than-expected performance in the midterm elections.

Overall, about a quarter of voters said the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade was a top factor in their vote, according to AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 94,000 voters in the midterm elections. Women, Democrats and abortion-rights supporters were especially likely to say that.

The results of Tuesday’s election sent a clear message that the issue of abortion rights has not faded for voters in the months since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Republican candidates did gain ground in some states, potentially paving the way for more state bans on women’s abortion access. In many states, the GOP lost contests that would have allowed the party to easily advance restrictions on access to abortion.

Abortion rights supporters won in five states where access was on the ballot, including in blue California and Vermont and the swing state of Michigan, where voters enshrined it in the state constitutions. In Montana and GOP stronghold Kentucky, voters rejected anti-abortion amendments.

Many Democratic candidates advocated for abortion rights on the campaign trail. But they also cast their Republican rivals’ “extreme” attitudes on abortion as one example of a broader threat to the country’s democratic institutions, including its election systems.

Abortion “may have made the difference in some key races where the elections were really competitive,” said Ashley Kirzinger, director of survey methodology at KFF, which designed questions for and published an analysis of VoteCast.