Andy Beshear, the Democratic incumbent governor, won a second term in the Republican-leaning state of Kentucky on Tuesday. That’s right, the state that brought us Mitch McConnell. The state that voted for Trump over Biden by 60%. That state.
Beshear’s win sends an unmistakable signal to Joe Biden and other Democrats that they should continue to focus on abortion rights in 2024, when control of Congress and the White House are at stake. Both male and female voters care about a woman’s right to choose, even in a state as beet-red as Kentucky.
Beshear’s win was declared when his vote tally reached a whopping 52.5% of the total cast, practically a landslide by today’s standard and a decisive margin by any definition. Clearly abortion is the hot-button issue for Kentuckians too, and the GOP has fatally misjudged this.
Meanwhile, from the state that brought us Jim Jordan, in a spectacular 56% to 44% victory, Ohio voters resoundingly voted to add abortion rights to their state constitution. This represents a major victory for abortion rights supporters in the only state where abortion is specifically on the ballot in November of 2023.
And as if that were not enough, Democrats have now clinched the 51st seat in the Virginia House of Delegates races, retaking the House, and cornering Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin. Now that Democrats have both the State Senate and House of Delegates, they can start the process of putting state constitutional amendments on the ballot to protect abortion rights.
It is becoming increasingly clear that last year’s SCOTUS smack down of Roe v Wade is coming back to haunt Republicans. While the evangelical Christian misogynistic neglect of women’s rights has brought them to the forefront of the discussion, their “pro-life” obsession carries with it the seeds of its own destruction.
This is why the Biden campaign must make a point of driving home the President’s belief in a woman’s right to choose. It is particularly useful that Biden is a Catholic, and that he supports abortion rights despite the Catholic Church’s fanatically anti-abortion stance. Abortion rights are supported everywhere by a majority of Americans, and for many it’s a one-issue voting deal breaker.
It isn’t only that Americans are getting sick of extremist MAGA Republicans. In a country where division is the order of the day, a woman’s right to choose is the one issue that most Americans can agree on. In short, for 2024 “it’s the abortion issue, stupid,” and we need to make abortion rights an important plank in the Democratic platform. Polls are one thing, but it’s elections that tell the story. And the few elections of 2023 told this story: MAGA, you’re no longer wanted! And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.