Donald Trump shocked many on the right because of a post he made on New Year’s Day, in which he absolved himself of responsibility for the GOP’s poor showing in the 2022 midterm elections and instead pinned the blame on Republicans for they way they “poorly handled” the “abortion issue.”
“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms. I was 233-20! It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters,” Trump said in a post on Truth Social. “Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again. Plus, Mitch stupid $’s!”
Many are interpreting Trump’s post as an attack on pro-lifers. But I actually think something else is going on here. Let’s not forget the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was partially made possible by Trump successfully getting three Supreme Court nominees confirmed to the court. In fact, Trump even took credit for the ruling after it was released in June.
“Today’s decision, which is the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation, along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump said in a statement. “It was my great honor to do so!”
As we’ve noted here at PJ Media before, polls have consistently shown that while Americans generally believe abortion should be legal, there should be limits on it. Support for abortion drops significantly each trimester. “Six in 10 U.S. adults think abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy,” explains Gallup. “However, support drops by about half, to 28%, for abortions conducted in the second three months, and by half again, to 13%, in the final three months.” Therefore, a gestational limit of 12 to 15 weeks is actually mainstream, which means that Democrats, who support abortion until birth, are way out in the fringe.
To this point, Republican governors in states that successfully passed gestational limits in their states did extremely well in the November elections.
“Thirteen states have aimed to enforce early gestational limits on abortion. In Alabama, Governor Ivey won with 67 percent. In Arkansas, Sara Huckabee Sanders won with 63 percent,” Catherine Glenn Foster explained in The American Conservative. “In Idaho, Republican Brad Little was reelected with 60 percent. In Oklahoma, Republican Governor Stitt was reelected with 55 percent of the vote. In South Dakota, Governor Noem was reelected with 62 percent. And in Texas, which got the most media attention for a year leading up to the Dobbs decision, Governor Abbott was reelected with nearly 55 percent.”
Similarly, Gov. Brian Kemp was reelected in Georgia despite signing an abortion heartbeat bill in 2019. Gov. Kim Reynolds was reelected in Iowa despite signing a six-week gestational abortion ban. Gov. Ron DeSantis, won reelection by 20 points even though he signed a 15-week abortion ban into law back in April.
“GOP pro-life candidates win in competitive races if they define their opponents as abortion extremists who support abortion on demand with NO limits, and contrast that with a clearly defined pro-life position centered around consensus such as pain-capable or heartbeat limits,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of SBA Pro-Life America, observed.
So, what exactly was Trump trying to say? Was it really an attack on pro-lifers, or was it a criticism of the GOP’s failure to have a unified, coherent message on abortion? Polls show that Democrats are not in the mainstream on abortion, and the GOP’s failure to capitalize on that is clearly a messaging problem.