In all the discussion of Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Terry McAuliffe, there’s a word that’s largely missing from the analysis: abortion. And, on first glance, that’s quite a surprise. This was supposed to be one of the most concretely consequential elections for abortion rights in a generation. Yet in the end, the issue hardly mattered at all….
It’s entirely possible that the Supreme Court will meaningfully (and perhaps even dramatically) increase state authority over abortion rights. This means the candidates’ respective opinions on abortion potentially mattered more than any candidate’s position in almost 50 years.
McAuliffe understood this reality and made the threat to abortion rights one of the centerpieces of his campaign. In late October, CNBC reported that three of McAuliffe’s most expensive ads targeted Youngkin for his pro-life stance. They were “among the former governor’s most aired ads on broadcast or cable television, with each airing over 1,100 times.”
McAuliffe made a campaign stop in September at an abortion clinic, and—as my former National Review colleague John McCormack pointed out—pieces in the New York Times, NPR, and the Washington Post accurately noted that the race would prove an interesting test of “the new politics of abortion.”
And what happened? If the exit polls are to be believed, the issue fizzled. Voters largely did not care. Only eight percent listed abortion as their top issue, and of those eight percent, 58 percent voted for Youngkin.
…. It’s impossible to know if the (relative) public indifference to the abortion debate will impact the Supreme Court. Even if it does impact the Court, it’s anybody’s guess as to the direction of that impact. My friend John McCormack argues that the Virginia results provide evidence “that if the Supreme Court does restore the right of the American people to enact laws protecting the lives of unborn babies, there would not be some sort of overwhelming nationwide backlash against Republicans at the polls in 2022.”
The above comes from a Nov. 7 story by David French on the Dispatch.