The 2024 elections will be incredibly significant for numerous reasons, with Arizona again set to be perhaps the most important battleground of the battleground states for the presidential election, and with what might be the most interesting US Senate race in modern American history in our state as well. But for Governor Hobbs, it will be just as significant for a different reason.
Republicans at the State Capitol have perilous one vote majorities in both the State Senate and House of Representatives, which has contributed to their ability to make things extremely tough for Hobbs (you can learn how here). If Democrats can get one more seat in either chamber, it will at least gum up the GOP’s ability to make target practice out of her. With two additional seats, they can start thinking about implementing their agenda.
That’s why when we heard about Hobbs’s support to put an initiative on the ballot to codify abortion rights up to the “time of viability”, it was evident that this was about much more than just abortion: this was about increasing the number of friendly voters who return their ballot.
You see, it’s a frequent tactic that both sides of the aisle employ. If you are able to gather enough signatures to get a proposition on the ballot that you know will particularly energize a group of voters that are generally inclined to vote for you, generally it is assumed that it will benefit you. The assumption is that “low efficacy” voters will get off the couch so to speak and vote for your candidates along with the proposition they support. The push to legalize marijuana via ballot proposition was considered to be just one of those propositions that pulls otherwise unengaged voters in.
But will it work? The assumption with this strategy is that that proposition is bound to be popular and pass by a wide margin. Recent and similar propositions protecting abortion rights have been quite successful around the country, but often times that is in response to abortion laws that are widely seen as too restrictive. In cases where abortion was almost entirely outlawed, or given extremely tight windows of legality, such as six weeks (which can elapse before a woman even knows she’s pregnant), most pragmatic voters who are not ideological hard-liners against abortion supported those propositions.
However, that is less obvious in Arizona’s case. The current law allows for abortion up to 15 weeks after conception. In nearly all cases, women will know that they are pregnant and have time to make a decision before that 15 weeks elapses. Staunch abortion supporters will say that it shouldn’t matter, that the choice should be the woman’s and the woman’s alone. But many of those aforementioned pragmatic, non-ideological voters may see the 15 week rule as reasonable enough. After all, only 25% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or nearly all cases.
Is 15 weeks a reasonable compromise and do Democrats listen more to special interest groups than the desires of the voters? Or are Republicans out of touch with the majority on this subject? The answer to that question could mean so much more than the impact on abortion rights in isolation.