An alleged ‘compromise’ on the contentious political matter faced a significant setback in Virginia, as the state Senate remained under Democratic control while the House was flipped.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin devised a strategy to shield his Republican counterparts from the electoral consequences faced by anti-abortion GOP candidates following the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the guaranteed right to an abortion.
His proposal, deemed a “compromise,” entailed a 15-week ban on abortion. Youngkin aimed to marginalize “extremist” Democrats and consolidate complete control for Republicans in Virginia’s government.
The results proved to be a significant failure, as the Democrats maintained their hold on the state Senate and managed to gain control of the Virginia House of Delegates, as projected by the Associated Press in the early hours of Wednesday.
Despite the substantial and costly efforts by the Republicans, led by Youngkin, to encourage early voting and the implementation of new state legislative district boundaries that made certain districts notably more challenging for specific Democratic candidates, the Democrats managed to secure narrow majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.
As of Wednesday morning, with some votes yet to be counted, the Democrats had secured at least 21 out of 40 seats in the state Senate and 51 out of 100 seats in the House of Delegates, according to the latest posted results.
These victories signify that Virginia will continue to be the last Southern state where abortion remains legal.
Furthermore, they underscore the ongoing struggle for Republicans to manage the electoral repercussions of a Supreme Court decision they had vigorously pursued for decades.
Mini Timmaraju, president of Reproductive Freedom for All, articulated in a statement following the Democrats’ acquisition of control over both chambers of Virginia’s state government, “The GOP consistently deceived the public.
They marketed their plan to prohibit abortion in Virginia as a measure to uphold the state’s abortion legality, presenting it as merely a ‘restriction.’
However, tonight, Virginians made clear their stance to the GOP and Glenn Youngkin: We reject abortion bans and leave leaders who endorse them.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA Pro-Life America, emphasized that the Virginia election results should serve as a warning for the GOP as they approach 2024.
According to her, while GOP candidates united to protect infants from late-term abortions starting at 15 weeks, they inadvertently allowed Democrats to take control of the abortion discussion on the media, leading to voter confusion.
Dannenfelser stressed that the outcome of the recent night’s elections demonstrates that this approach is not a winning strategy for the GOP.
Despite the reversal of Roe v. Wade more than a year ago, abortion continued to be a significant factor in recent elections, particularly noteworthy in an off-year election that lacked the presence of regular federal offices on the ballot, which would typically influence voter turnout.
In Ohio, a significant majority of voters sanctioned a state constitutional amendment that secures reproductive rights, encompassing the right to an abortion until the point of “viability,” typically understood to be around 22-24 weeks.
Moreover, the amendment allows for an abortion beyond this point if the life or health of the pregnant individual is at risk.
Over in Pennsylvania, Democratic Judge Daniel McCaffery secured a position on the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court, with the topic of abortion rights at the forefront of the election. With his victory, Democrats will hold a 5-2 majority on the state’s highest court.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear effortlessly clinched re-election in the staunchly conservative state, leveraging his opponent, Republican Daniel Cameron, as an excessively anti-abortion candidate throughout the campaign.
Despite later adjusting his stance to allow abortion in cases of rape or incest, this shift failed to sway voters.
Tom Bonier, the senior adviser for the elections data company TargetSmart, underscored the impact of abortion rights on the recent election outcomes.
He noted that in 2022, abortion rights had the most pronounced effect when directly featured on the ballot, as opposed to when linked to candidate races. However, this dynamic has now changed, as voters established a direct connection between voting for GOP candidates and the potential enforcement of abortion bans.
Glenn Youngkin, widely speculated to harbor presidential ambitions, attempted to navigate the contentious issue of abortion delicately.
Initially positioning himself as “pro-life,” he eventually settled on advocating for a prohibition on abortion after 15 weeks, with exceptions beyond that point, presenting it as a model for Republican candidates nationwide.
“I believe this is a moment for Virginians to unite to pursue common sense. This unity paves the way for us to address truly significant issues,” remarked Youngkin during his appearance on ABC’s “This Week” mere days before the election.
However, this strategy failed to resonate with Virginia voters, raising doubts about whether such “compromises” would benefit Republicans in the crucial 2024 elections.
It also deflates the political momentum of Youngkin, who had been seen as a potential presidential candidate since securing the governorship in the swing state of Virginia in 2021.
Dave Rexrode, a senior advisor to Youngkin, commented that the campaign was “continuously monitoring a couple of key races and will comprehensively evaluate the situation as the results slowly come in.”
Rexrode added on social media, “We had anticipated a more robust outcome tonight but remain proud of the hard work all of our candidates have invested in these fiercely contested districts.”