Desperate Democrats turn to abortion as a wedge

Polls show men leaning heavily Republican this year. That has Democrats and their backers trying in the campaign’s last days to spur left-leaning and independent women to vote, by emphasizing abortion and other social issues. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

This is a great development.  It puts the pro-choice crowd exactly where we want them.

The campaigns remain focused on the economy, the dominant issue for both men and women, and it’s unclear if a push toward social issues can make up the advantage Republicans have there. Across the board, Democrats are losing support from many groups that strongly backed the party in 2008 and 2006.

Still, Democratic campaigns are bombarding female voters with messages about social issues on the stump and in debates, television ads, targeted phone calls and direct mail. In California’s Senate race, Sen. Barbara Boxer says Republican Carly Fiorina’s opposition to abortion would turn women into criminals, a contention the Fiorina campaign calls “outlandish.” In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet accuses his GOP opponent, Ken Buck, of wanting to ban common forms of birth control. Mr. Buck says he has changed his position. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

This is awesome.  Let’s bring social issues to the forefront, where they should be.

As an economist, I fully appreciate the importance of economic issues.  But I assure you that they pale in comparison to the importance of social issues.  While the Democrats and Republicans do have major differences in their economic policies as described on paper, the outcomes that would result from these policies in the long run would not be that different on the material well-being of the average American family.  There would be some difference, for sure, but nothing revolutionary.  This reflects both the inevitable compromises that each party would have to make in implementing their policies, but also the dynamism of the U.S. economy, which has shown itself to be surprisingly resilient in the face of adverse shocks and varying policies.

This contrasts starkly with abortion policy, which currently costs 1 million babies their lives each year in America.

Democrats hope to scare women voters towards pro-choice politicians.  That’s a double-edged sword because it enables pro-life voters to more easily identify where people stand on the key issues.  I have many good pro-life friends who want to vote pro-life, but they don’t bother following politics very much and they typically don’t have a clue which politician is pro-life or pro-choice.

Well, the Democrats are solving that problem.

This strategy of the Democrats may work in the short term.  They may manage to scare enough women so that a few more Democrats hold on to their seats than would otherwise have been the case.  But since the pro-choice movement is aging fast and losing momentum, this is a bad long-term strategy.  Not surprising, since politicians don’t think long term.

Imagine a politician in the 19th century campaigning on the fact that “I’m staunchly pro-slavery, unlike my equal-rights opponent (insert scoffing snicker here).  Sure, it may have bought him an extra term in office, but eventually his whole movement got canned.

That’s where the pro-choice politicians are headed.

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