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MEMO: Ahead of Roe Anniversary, Democratic Governors are Leading, Remain in Strong Position in Fight to Protect Abortion Rights

FROM: Meghan Meehan-Draper, DGA Executive Director

TO: Interested Parties

RE: Ahead of Roe Anniversary, Democratic Governors are Leading, Remain in Strong Position in Fight to Protect Abortion Rights

DATE: Friday, Jan. 19, 2024

After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned nearly a half-century of settled law, and with MAGA Republicans in Congress blocking federal action to restore reproductive rights, Americans are now looking to their governor to protect their most basic rights.

The DGA has been central to this fight, leading the charge to help elect and re-elect Democratic governors who are taking action in their states to protect and restore Americans’ freedom. Democratic governors and the DGA have also developed an effective playbook for holding GOP candidates accountable for their extreme positions to win across the country, including in major battleground and deep-red states.

As we officially enter the 2024 election cycle, brand new polling commissioned by the DGA and conducted between January 17-18 finds that voters are poised to once again reject GOP candidates who support restricting abortion access in two battleground states with governor’s races – New Hampshire and North Carolina. There is more data below, but some key stats include:

  • In New Hampshire, 63% of voters oppose the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, with only 28% of voters saying they support it. 64% of voters said they would “prefer a governor who supports protecting abortion rights” vs. 26% who “prefer a governor who wants to restrict abortion rights.”
  • In North Carolina, 51% of voters oppose the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, with only 36% supporting it. 52% of voters said they would “prefer a governor who supports protecting abortion rights” vs. only 35% who “prefer a governor who wants to restrict abortion rights.”

With access to abortion remaining top-of-mind for millions of Americans ahead of the 2024 election, see below for information on some of the key actions Democratic governors have taken to protect reproductive rights, how the DGA has supported candidates who support protecting Americans’ freedom, and an update on the state of the battle for reproductive rights across the country.

Democratic governors have worked tirelessly to protect reproductive rights in their states. From taking legal and executive action, to working to pass legislation that codifies abortion rights, to stockpiling abortion medication, Democratic governors have stepped up as national leaders on this issue. Some key examples include:

  • After winning big in 2022, many Democratic governors signed legislation to codify abortion rights into state law, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. Additionally, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed bills protecting abortion providers from criminal prosecution and out-of-state legal attacks.
  • Democratic governors also took executive action to protect reproductive rights and veto harmful abortion bans. Maine Gov. Janet Mills, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, and Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee issued executive orders protecting providers and preventing other states from taking action against women seeking abortion in their states. Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed an extreme bill restricting access to abortion rights. Gov. Tony Evers took direct legal action to oppose Wisconsin’s 174-year old abortion ban.
  • With a harmful court ruling threatening access to safe and legal abortion medication, Democratic governors took action to protect their states. Govs. Healey, Hochul, Kotek, Inslee and Newsom were among those who established stockpiles of abortion medications to ensure their citizens can access the care they need.

The DGA’s record investments across the country to buck historical trends and help win in battleground and red states also helped make this possible. In 2022, the DGA invested over $170 million to elect Democratic governors who support protecting abortion rights in their states.

  • In 2023, the DGA spent over $20 million in Kentucky to help reelect Gov. Andy Beshear and to defeat Daniel Cameron, whose extreme position on abortion — including his refusal to support exceptions for rape or incest, even for a 9-year-old child — was put on full display for voters.
  • In 2022, following the overturning of Roe, the DGA launched the Protect Reproductive Rights Fund, chaired by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, in an effort to support Democratic candidates for governor who would fight to protect reproductive freedom.
  • Since 2018, the DGA has invested more than $80 million – more than any other organization in the country –  to elect and reelect women Democratic governors who are national leaders in this fight, including the successful reelections of Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, along with the successful election of Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, and Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek.

At the same time, voters across party lines continue to reject extreme GOP attacks on reproductive freedom. The DGA was proud to successfully help hold some of the country’s most dangerous anti-choice politicians accountable, including Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Tudor Dixon in Michigan, and Daniel Cameron in Kentucky, among many others. All of these candidates ran on a harmful platform of banning abortion – often with no exceptions in even some of the most dire cases. In many cases, they also threatened to go further by going after access to birth control and contraceptives.

The DGA and Democratic governors made strategic investments to remind and educate voters of Republicans’ extreme stances, with comprehensive campaigns that reached voters through digital, TV, mail, and grassroots efforts. Watch some key examples of those ads here.

But the fight isn’t over, and as we look to 2024, there are 11 key races for governor across the country where protecting abortion rights will remain a critical issue, including in North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Washington.

New DGA polling in New Hampshire and North Carolina once again shows this issue will be a major vulnerability for GOP candidates in November. 

  • New Abortion Rights Polling in New Hampshire:
    • 63% of voters oppose the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, with only 28% of voters saying they support it.
    • 64% of voters said they would “prefer a governor who supports protecting abortion rights” vs. 26% who “prefer a governor who wants to restrict abortion rights.”
    • 67% of voters said either abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
    • 53% of voters said GOP candidate Kelly Ayotte’s record of supporting the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and supporting a national ban on abortion makes them less likely to vote for her.
    • 56% of voters said GOP candidate Chuck Morse’s record of passing New Hampshire’s first abortion ban in decades, and then voting against exceptions for victims of rape or incest, make them less likely to vote for him.
  • New Abortion Rights Polling in North Carolina: 
    • 51% of voters oppose the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, with only 36% supporting it.
    • 52% of voters said they would “prefer a governor who supports protecting abortion rights” vs. only 35% who “prefer a governor who wants to restrict abortion rights.”
    • 56% of voters said either abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Notably, only 9% said abortion should be illegal in all cases, which is the position of GOP frontrunner Mark Robinson, who supports banning abortion with no exceptions.

Read more from this survey HERE.

Additionally, another recent poll in Washington found that 3-in-5 voters said they would not support a GOP candidate for governor who opposes abortion rights.

Conclusion: The fight over reproductive rights will continue to be a winning issue for Democratic governors and candidates in key states and races across the country – and a major vulnerability for GOP candidates.

Moreover, it has created a broad lane for Democratic governors – and the Democratic Party as a whole – to reclaim the mantle of core American values like freedom and liberty. These values transcend party lines, extending to other core issues, allowing us to expand our reach and talk to new voters.

As the fight for reproductive rights remains on the forefront of voters’ minds, and as extremists continue their attempts to ban abortion nationwide, it is more critical than ever that we elect more Democratic governors who are committed to protecting and strengthening Americans’ most fundamental freedoms.

 

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