Democratic President Joe Biden has made abortion a cornerstone of his campaign going into November, but its effect on his re-election chances is less than certain, according to political experts who spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Julie Chávez Rodríguez, Biden’s campaign manager, said in June that they were going to be putting abortion “front and center” leading up to the election, and Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have since been active on the campaign trail at rallies across the country focusing on the issue. The president also invited Kate Cox, the woman at the center of a contentious abortion case in Texas, to his State of the Union address in March, but the jury is still out as to whether the president will reap the rewards of his efforts, according to political experts who spoke to the DCNF.

Abortion is not usually the “sole issue” that brings voters to the polls on either side of the aisle, Michael McKenna, a visiting fellow in the Executive Vice President’s Office at The Heritage Foundation and the president of MWR Strategies, told the DCNF. He noted that as a “very soft second-tier issue,” abortion often falls “behind the economy, immigration, health care, crime, and education” in terms of voter priority.

“It will be dispositive for very few voters,” McKenna said.

Despite this, Biden is looking to states like Arizona, which he narrowly won in 2020 by roughly 10,000 votes, to give him a boost at the polls, according to Politico. The president told voters at a rally in the state on March 19 that he “desperately” needed their help.

“Look, there’s only about six or seven states that are going to determine the outcome of this election. They’re toss-up states, and this is one of them,” Biden said.

Arizona is in the middle of a referendum as activists gather thousands of signatures to put an amendment on the ballot in November, enshrining abortion in the state’s constitution. Harris visited the state in March and targeted the Supreme Court for overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022 and implored voters to keep the president in office to stop a national abortion ban.

“So, in conclusion, I ask today: Arizona, are you ready to make your voices heard? Do we trust women? Do we believe in reproductive freedom? Do we believe in the promise of America? Are we ready to fight for it? And when we fight, we win,” Harris told the crowd.

Voters in New York and Maryland are set to make a decision on abortion access this fall, and activists in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada and South Dakota are working overtime to try and get their initiatives approved ahead of November, according to Spectrum News. Biden has voiced his support for ballot initiatives, saying “democracy won” in November after Ohio passed an abortion amendment allowing the procedure up to birth in some cases.

Charles S. Bullock, III, the Richard B. Russell chair in Political Science and professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, told the DCNF that supporting abortion ballot measures could give Biden enough of an edge over Trump in some states.

“Keep in mind, there are really few voters for whom abortion is the sole issue in which this is true both for the pro-choice as well as for the anti-abortion crowd,” Bullock said. “But if you’re able to move, even a relatively small share of the electorate based upon that one issue, then yeah, that could easily be decisive; doesn’t guarantee that it would be, but it could. When Democrats look at what has happened, particularly in some very red states, abortion issues have been widely approved, and they could logically conclude that ‘if it works in Ohio if it works in Oklahoma, I bet it would work in Arizona or Georgia or Wisconsin.’”

Trump is currently holding a narrow lead over Biden and has been gaining momentum since October, according to polling averages from RealClearPolitics.

Abortion ballots, however, have not been successful at motivating Democrat voters in the past, according to an analysis from Politico. Out of five abortion initiatives that have appeared on the ballot since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, none showed a significant increase in Democratic turnout.

“It would be unwise for candidates in either party to think that an abortion-rights ballot initiative will automatically determine who wins or loses a race,” John LaBombard, an adviser to swing- and red-state Democrats, told Politico.

Biden has also been at odds with his base as Democrats have expressed frustration that his talking points focus on a small percentage of abortion cases, often in instances of rape or to save the life of the mother, to appeal to moderates on the issue. Kelsey Pritchard, director of state affairs at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, told the DCNF that despite Biden’s attempts, his record on abortion would out him as “extreme” sooner or later.

“Look at his administration there is nothing safe, legal and rare about what they’ve been doing with mail-order abortion drugs, ripping funding away from pregnancy centers, and what they’ve done administratively,” she said. “I understand there’s this media narrative that Biden is the moderate on this issue, that Biden is aligned with the American people and Trump is extreme, but if you look at their actual position, if you compare the fact that Biden doesn’t want a single limit nationally and he wants to completely take every pro-life protection off the books. You compare that with Trump, who’s been saying 15 weeks sounds about right to him, I mean, Trump is the moderate, Biden is the extreme.”

Biden’s campaign did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.


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