Democratic candidates for governor are trying to turn their pro-abortion stance into an economic argument by saying Republican restrictions on abortion will hurt the job market, as polls show issues like inflation and the economy are overtaking reproductive choice as a top issue among voters.
From Pennsylvania to Michigan, Democratic candidates for governor appear to be reacting to those polls by saying economic angst will only get worse if abortion access is limited.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor, is warning there will be a mass exodus of jobs from that swing state if Republicans succeed in cracking down on abortion. Shapiro is also running ads in the closing week of the campaign arguing that the abortion views of his GOP opponent, state Senator Doug Mastriano, would make it difficult for Pennsylvania companies to attract workers.
“Doug Mastriano has said his number one priority would be banning abortion with no exceptions,” said a spokesman for the Shapiro campaign. “His extreme position isn’t just dangerous and unpopular — it would drag Pennsylvania’s economy backwards, costing us jobs and forcing businesses to leave.”
In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is using a similar strategy in her quest for a second term. Whitmer, who polls show is facing a tight race, argues that keeping abortion legal will give an upper hand in luring companies to Michigan.
“I’m going to go into Indiana and Ohio and start stealing headquarters and cultivating talent,” Whitmer said last month at the Detroit Economic Club forum. “Go to Purdue [University] and talk to every woman engineer, as well as Ohio State, to tell them that in Michigan they can have full rights to make your own decision about your healthcare and your body and a great job.”
Democratic candidates for governor are relying on a similar message in Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Wisconsin. In each of these states, the candidates are warning that the economic resurgence seen since the end of the coronavirus could be jeopardized by Republican abortion policies.
The focus comes as polls show that the economy and inflation have overtaken abortion as the top issue among midterm voters.
Some high-profile Republicans predict that Democrats will not find it so easy to make abortion more relevant by treating it as an economic issue.
“Normal Americans don’t think abortion is a way to fix our economy,” said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. “People who put politics first think like that.”
“Unfettered access to abortion up until the moment of birth is not an economic policy, it’s a dog whistle to their far-left base,” added a spokeswoman for the Republican Governors Association.
The push by Democrats is not surprising given their need to find some positive way to talk about the economy at a time of high inflation.
“Abortion was always seen as an opportunity to give democrats a chance to reset the focus from a struggling economy,” said Amy Walter, the editor-in-chief of the Cook Political Report. “When you are the party in charge and there’s 8% inflation, there’s no magic ‘economic message’ that’s going to convince people the economy is actually doing awesome.”
“The [party out of power] gets the benefit of the doubt unless the party in charge is able to sow enough doubt about them to convince voters that a vote for change is a bigger risk than sticking with a disappointing [or] bad status quo,” added Walter.