Republicans Can Lose Because of Abortion
Those that are interested in politics often read broadly and follow a lot of the detail on issues affecting the country and in many cases are familiar with the platforms of the two major parties. There are, however, many people that will vote that are not as well informed and will make their choice of candidate from major news media pieces, or on a few or even single issues that are of paramount importance to them. That single issue for many people is abortion, and it has the potential to lose elections for the Republican Party.
In recent years polling for political ideology shows that voters self-identify at approximately 42% Conservative, 35% Moderate, about 20% Liberal. Pew research shows Republicans are 28%, Independents are 37% and Democrats are 34% of all voters. The difference between Conservative and Republican is that 12% consider themselves Conservative rather than Republican. Likewise 14% more identify as Democrats than as Liberals. The difference in the middle is that only 2-3% identify themselves as Independent versus Moderate. The result is that about 12% of Conservatives are likely Independent and 14% percent of Moderates are likely Democrat. That means that of the 34-37% of the voting public considered Moderate or Independent, about 22-25% truly in the middle is having a significant effect on the elections.
Given those numbers, it is impossible for either the Democrat Party or the Republican Party to gain a majority in an election without a significant portion of the Independent voters and particularly of the 22-25% in the true middle. In order for Republicans to win an election they need to get about half of the Independents over and above those that consider themselves Conservative. While it is not news that the success of either Party necessitates the votes of Independents, it shows that the margin for error is thin, hence not only the need to move toward the center for National Elections, but the need to not alienate or drive away any significant segment of the voting public.
Assuming that the true believers in either party are unlikely to cross party lines and will normally support their identified Party platform, the question remains how to not antagonize the middle.
For middle of the road Conservatives and right leaning Moderates, that antagonization is likely the tendency for the Democratic Party to interpret the Constitution as a living and hence malleable document subject to judicial diktat and personal belief. Additionally, candidates supporting policies that emphasize income redistribution and equal outcomes versus personal accomplishment and equal opportunity, and you have the making of a Republican victory. President Obama's comment to "Joe the Plummer" let the people see that he supported such policies and no doubt cost him votes. The fact that he is of mixed race and offered a new vision about the possibility of change in how an Administration might run the country no doubt appealed to the middle of the voting populace and probably made the difference in his winning the election. By the same token, his performance on the job appears to have alienated that same segment and is going to make it difficult to get reelected.
For middle of the road Democrats and the Moderates on the left, involvement in foreign conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the possibility of conflict in such places as Iran or Syria are motivators to identify with Democratic policies. Candidates that advocate Domestic and Social Policies supporting Gay Rights, narrow interpretation of the Second Amendment, relatively open borders, abortion rights, and free healthcare, and you'll have the Democratic Party in the White House.
In districts that have fairly equally balanced party voters, candidates need to stay off certain topics. Democrats in tight elections will not espouse anti-gun policies or income redistribution, and Republican candidates may try to avoid discussions on abortion or Gay Rights.
A case could be made that there are one or two issues that are determinant factors for Independents voting for or against Democratic candidates who are honest in their campaigns as to their positions on the issues, and they would most likely be supporting Gay Rights and opposing the Second Amendment. For Republicans the singular most glaring issue and possible the most divisive in the Country today, is abortion.
There are probably three primary positions on abortion that most people fall into. Those that are complete supporters, and will rarely if ever change that position, those that adamantly oppose it, also unlikely to change their position, and those open to debate.
The middle ground is the deciding area. Many people that are considered conservative on other political issues like Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, and even Domestic and Social Policies like Gay Rights, Homosexual Marriage, and Gun ownership, still support the right to have an abortion. The threat of overturning Roe v. Wade will cause these voters to abandon their conservative leanings and vote Democratic. While changing the law would likely reduce the overall number of abortions in this country, the price would be very high. The argument that abortion is morally wrong is a debate worth having, but a coercive law is not the answer, and is unlikely to pass.
No matter the argument, those that support the right to have an abortion will use the possibility of losing that right to vote Democratic. Republicans should stop trying to legislate morality and accept the fact that abortion will continue, even if illegal and the only position to take is that it is a personal decision, no matter how abhorrent. The battle for abortion is the limit as to when it can occur, not if it can occur. Personal preferences aside, any policy beyond that will fail, and if that is not obvious, just ask your friends and family, you may be surprised by their answers.