GOP Elites Don’t Understand: Abortion Can Help Them Win Elections But Not If They Retreat

Photo credit: Anna Levinzon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: Anna Levinzon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The “truce” on social issues in 2012 effectively turned into a one-sided surrender. Democrats ran far to the left and attacked Republicans as being extreme — even going so far as to accuse the formerly pro-choice, Republican nominee Mitt Romney of being against birth control. That’s not just bad; that’s a disaster.

So when I read about GOP consultants giving the advice to stay away from social issues like abortion and to focus on issues that don’t really draw a contrast like national security (especially with a Hawk like Hillary) I get a little sad.

The Democrats have a radical agenda on abortion — one that should and could easily be taken advantage of politically. They support underage abortions, up until the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayers, and they don’t even support common sense safety guidelines. The “safe, legal, and rare” abortion platform of the Democratic party has turned into just “legal.” Did I also mention that they are fine with selling aborted baby parts? Hard to imagine a set of more egregious political positions to take.

But are Democrats backing down from their agenda or from bringing up abortion in 2016? Nope:

Especially in battleground Senate races where a number of their candidates are pro-choice women, Democrats will be ready to pounce on GOP comments on abortion. The issue produced some rhetorical missteps for some Republican congressional candidates in 2012.

“There is a perfect storm brewing to expose the outrageous, anti-woman agenda that remains a top Republican priority,” said Marcy Stech, spokeswoman for EMILY’s List, which will be spending millions of dollars in 2016 supporting the high number of pro-choice, women candidates. “As voters begin to tune into the 2016 cycle, it’s clear that Republicans have not dropped their efforts to chip away at women’s basic rights and freedoms — in fact, they’ve leaned in harder than ever.”

It’s clear what Democrats are doing — obviously they are securing their own base of voters, but they are also targeting pro-choice Republicans and trying to peel them off.

And what are Republicans saying?

“Social issues may compete, but national security and the economy will still be dominating the political debate in 2016,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican consultant who served as a senior adviser to Mitt Romney. “The threat to the homeland is still a major concern of voters in light of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks and Syria and ISIS will still be generating headlines next year.”

Social issues may compete? Nothing about the Democrat’s out-of-touch agenda? How are Republicans going to win over socially conservative Democrats? Or have Republicans given up on this notion? In 2011, Gallup found that 32 percent of Democrats identified as “Pro-life” — what are Republican plans to win over this group? Or to at least make them think twice about voting for Democrats?

I think Republicans should talk about national security. I think they should talk about the economy — albeit a lot differently than they did in 2012. But to ignore social issues is to leave a good amount of potential voters, many of whom are Democrats, on the table, and that’s just flat out irresponsible.

Terry Schilling is the executive director of American Principles Project.