Bans off our bodies / abortion is healthcare rally signs
Bans off our bodies / abortion is healthcare rally signs

An out­right major­i­ty of like­ly 2022 midterm vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State say they would be “much less like­ly” to sup­port a can­di­date for Con­gress or Leg­is­la­ture this year who sup­ports a nation­al or state abor­tion ban, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s lat­est statewide poll has found.

A total of 57% of 782 respon­dents sur­veyed said they would be less like­ly to sup­port a can­di­date who favors a ban (50% much less like­ly, 7% some­what), while 22% said they would be more like­ly (17% much more like­ly, 5% somewhat).

18% said it would­n’t make a dif­fer­ence to their vote.

Only 3% were not sure.

Here’s the full text of the ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: If a can­di­date for Con­gress or Leg­is­la­ture sup­port­ed a nation­al or state abor­tion ban, would that make you much more like­ly, some­what more like­ly, some­what less like­ly, or much less like­ly to vote for them, or would it not make a difference?


  • More like­ly: 22% 
    • Much more: 17%
    • Some­what more: 5%
  • Less like­ly: 57% 
    • Some­what less: 7%
    • Much less: 50%
  • Would­n’t make a dif­fer­ence: 18%
  • Not sure: 3%

Our sur­vey of 782 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State midterm vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, Octo­ber 19th through Thurs­day, Octo­ber 20th. The sur­vey was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.5% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

This find­ing speaks to why Repub­li­can Sen­ate can­di­date Tiffany Smi­ley record­ed and aired an ad begin­ning sev­er­al weeks ago in which she said that despite being opposed to abor­tion her­self, she would not sup­port a fed­er­al abor­tion ban.

Democ­rats have retort­ed that Smi­ley is only say­ing this so she can get elect­ed — because run­ning on her actu­al beliefs would be dis­qual­i­fy­ing. And indeed, were Smi­ley to win a six year term, she could vote for a nation­wide abor­tion ban in the next Con­gress at Mitch McConnel­l’s direc­tion — and there would be no oppor­tu­ni­ty to replace her with a sen­a­tor who sup­ports repro­duc­tive rights until 2028.

Speak­ing at GOTV events with Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren this week­end, Sen­a­tor Mur­ray not­ed that she and War­ren were there when Don­ald Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nees showed up for their con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings in the Sen­ate, said in response to ques­tions that Roe was set­tled law, and that they respect­ed it.

All were even­tu­al­ly con­firmed to life­time terms, over their objec­tions. And once the third of them was con­firmed (Coney Bar­rett), it took less than two years for Roe to be com­plete­ly dis­man­tled. The con­se­quences have been dis­as­trous: Women and peo­ple who can become preg­nant have already suf­fered greatly.

Most of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates run­ning this year in Wash­ing­ton sup­port abor­tion bans; there are very few Repub­li­cans left who sup­port repro­duc­tive rights to any extent, and to our knowl­edge, there aren’t any pro-choice, pro-free­dom Repub­li­cans in either the state House or state Sen­ate right now.

The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty is well aware that most vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton sup­port repro­duc­tive rights, so the par­ty has done its best to sim­ply avoid the top­ic. For exam­ple, if you search the 2020 WSRP plat­form, you won’t find the word “abor­tion” in it. It’s just not there. That’s a delib­er­ate choice.

Repub­li­can leg­isla­tive lead­ers J.T. Wilcox and John Braun have embraced this strat­e­gy. But they nev­er­the­less hold views hos­tile to repro­duc­tive rights. Wilcox’s web­site declares in bold type: “JT’s con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues are endorsed by Human Life PAC, the NRA, and the Assoc. of WA Busi­ness.” It’s telling that the anti-abor­tion Human Life PAC is the very first enti­ty that Wilcox lists as a supporter.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty in Wash­ing­ton State was not always like this.

In the 1970s, when Ref­er­en­dum 20 was on the bal­lot, pro­gres­sive Repub­li­cans like Gov­er­nor Dan Evans and Joel Pritchard cam­paigned for abor­tion to be legal, as detailed in this excel­lent his­tor­i­cal primer by Ang­ie Weiss for the UW.

Ref­er­en­dum 20 began in the Leg­is­la­ture (as all ref­er­en­da do) as Sen­ate Bill 68. Advo­cates for repro­duc­tive rights had to com­pro­mise on lan­guage to ensure there would be a major­i­ty in the Sen­ate will­ing to vote in favor of the legislation.

“The vote was thor­ough­ly bipar­ti­san, with 14 Repub­li­cans and 11 Democ­rats vot­ing in favor,” Weiss writes. “It is also note­wor­thy that most sup­port­ers in King Coun­ty, the most pop­u­lous coun­ty in the state, were Repub­li­cans, while the King Coun­ty oppo­si­tion in the Sen­ate came large­ly from Democrats.”

Younger Wash­ing­to­ni­ans might have a hard time imag­in­ing that there was once a time when Repub­li­cans pro­vid­ed most of the votes to pass repro­duc­tive rights leg­is­la­tion out of the State Sen­ate. But there was. It’s good to know your history.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty has changed since the 1960s and 1970s, and today, can­di­dates who sup­port repro­duc­tive rights are not wel­come in the par­ty, with its pro­gres­sive wing hav­ing died out. Mean­while, there are extreme­ly few con­ser­v­a­tives left in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Can­di­dates’ posi­tions on repro­duc­tive rights — like so many issues — now almost exclu­sive­ly fol­low par­ti­san lines.

These shifts have helped fuel a polit­i­cal realign­ment which has left Repub­li­cans large­ly out of pow­er in Wash­ing­ton State for near­ly three decades.

Repub­li­cans haven’t won a guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion since 1980, haven’t won a sen­a­to­r­i­al elec­tion since 1994, and haven’t con­trolled both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture since the mid-nineties. Their drought seems like­ly to con­tin­ue this year, and their stance oppos­ing repro­duc­tive rights will be part of the rea­son why.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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