A Replay of 2004?

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I’d missed this from a few days ago. At NBC News, TPM alum Sahil Kapur notes that Democrats use of abortion ballot initiatives to coincide with the November election can be seen as a kind of replay of the 2004 election in which the Bush campaign got state Republican parties and activists to work to get anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot to goose turnout for their partisans. There are some pretty basic substantive differences, of course. Abortion rights that existed in 2022 have close to disappeared in many of these states and the ballot initiatives would bring them back and in many cases expand them. At the time legalizing gay marriage wasn’t really on the horizon in any of the states in question. But the functional similarity is a point well-taken.

I noted last night that Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake’s response to the court decision in Arizona was a nice illustration of just how at sea Republicans are with how to deal with the politics of abortion, whether it’s at the state or national level. She was actually reduced to decrying the fact that her state had chosen a draconian ban on virtually all abortions when she herself supports such a ban and claims to believe that the policy decisions should be left to individual states.

Meanwhile, remember that there will likely also be ballot initiatives in two other critical states — Montana and Nevada. Montana isn’t in contention at the presidential level like Nevada. But it is the site of a critical Senate contest. So we’re likely to see many more versions of the Arizona story playing out over coming months, if not with quite the same drama as in Arizona given the move to a near-total ban.

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