How the Abortion Ruling Changes the Fall Election Outlook

THE SUPREME COURT ABORTION RULING has changed our view of the fall election. Republicans still are still likely to win control of the House, but the Senate could be winnable for the Democrats in the wake of last Friday’s court decision.

REPUBLICANS WERE JUBILANT IN PUBLIC over the court ruling, but in private they conceded that their chances of winning a landslide on Nov. 8 have diminished. Turnout is always the key, and supporters of abortion rights could turn out in huge numbers in states where Republicans are losing altitude in tight Senate races — Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, etc.

OF COURSE HIGH GASOLINE AND FOOD PRICES will be dominant issues, which is why we think the GOP will pick up more than the five seats required to take the House. But the GOP’s hopes of a 25 or 30 seat gain now looks less likely. Something like a 15-to-20 seat House pickup seems more realistic.

THAT’S BECAUSE A CLEAR MAJORITY of Americans favor some abortion rights, and a very large majority opposes banning abortion for victims of rape or incest. If Republicans defend that stance, they could put the Senate back in play. A one-seat pickup for the Democrats, giving them a 51-49 majority, is plausible.

MANY REPUBLICANS REFUSED to speak to reporters after the ruling, because Justice Clarence Thomas raised the explosive issue of what comes next — state curbs on abortion pills is at the top of the list. These pills account for about half of all abortions in the U.S.

A WEEK AGO, Louisiana’s governor signed into law a bill that outlawed out-of-state providers from mailing abortion pills, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $75,000 fine. New curbs on crossing state borders to get an abortion also may be enacted.

THOMAS AND HIS ALLIES may overplay their hand — especially if the abortion issue morphs into a debate over gay marriage and the use of contraceptives. Most Republicans will shun any talk about these two issues, but Democrats will relentlessly warn about what Thomas will do next.

WHILE DEMOCRATS TOLD US OVER THE WEEKEND that this is an issue that could drive voter turnout, they also grumbled that Joe Biden hasn’t been assertive enough; more than one source told us that this could finally provide Kamala Harris with a marquee issue. At the least, she will vigorously lobby businesses to offer reproductive benefits.

AS FOR MORE RADICAL APPROACHES, we did not detect much support for expanding the Supreme Court, codifying Roe v. Wade, or impeaching justices like Brett Kavanaugh for alleged perjury when he asserted at his confirmation hearing that Roe v. Wade was “settled law.”

SOME PRO-CHOICE ADVOCATES want to press ahead on these issues, especially codifying Roe v. Wade, but they don’t have the votes in the Senate, unless there’s a change in the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to cut off debate. Many Democrats are angry that Biden won’t cross that line.

FOR THE MARKETS THIS MORNING, there’s some hope that the Federal Reserve may not have to raise interest rates super-aggressively, as it pledged, if the economy and inflation are beginning to cool off this summer, which now seems possible. That would be good news.

WHAT ISN’T GOOD NEWS is that still another enormously divisive political issue will persist for years to come. There will be two Americas, geographically and politically, with no hope of compromise on abortion.

Related: Donald Trump’s Disastrous June

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