Democrats have been accused — in many instances, fairly — of having an overly complex message. The party, often eager to satisfy a variety of constituencies, and focused on substantive details, tends not to come up with governing ideas that fit neatly into a tweet.
But as Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court prepare to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Democratic message has become much simpler.
Yesterday afternoon, for example, a Republican filibuster in the Senate blocked the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was designed to codify existing abortion rights in federal law. Soon after, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill and delivered his party’s message:
“Vote. Elect more pro-choice Democrats if you want to see a woman have control over her own body. Elect more pro-choice Democrats if you want to protect a woman’s freedom and right to choose. Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want to see a nationwide ban on abortion, if you want to see doctors and women arrested. If you want to see no exceptions for rape or incest.”
The New York Democrat said he and his party “are going to continue to highlight this issue relentlessly,” at which point he largely repeated what he’d just said.
As Schumer spoke, the White House issued a written statement from President Joe Biden responding to the Senate vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the message was the same.
“To protect the right to choose, voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November, and return a pro-choice majority to the House,” the president’s statement read. “If they do, Congress can pass this bill in January, and put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law.”
It was against this backdrop that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) launched its first ad on the issue, which began appearing yesterday on MSNBC’s website.
“If Senate Republicans win in November, they will light women’s rights on fire,” the ad’s narrator tells viewers. “They will make abortion illegal everywhere. Punishing women, even in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life. And they’re coming after birth control — unless we vote.”
The ad concludes, “If we protect and expand our Democratic majority in the Senate, we’ll protect women’s rights to make their own decisions. Fight with us.”
You don’t need a doctorate in political science to appreciate the plan. Polls consistently show that most Americans want Roe v. Wade to be left intact, and that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. So, Democrats are starting to make this simple for voters: Republicans oppose reproductive rights; Democrats support reproductive rights; and the electorate should vote accordingly.
Whether this will work is far from clear and will depend largely on how voters prioritize competing issues. But at this point in the election year, this is one of a limited number of issues on which Democrats are on the offensive and Republicans are on the defensive.