The Hole the GOP Keeps Digging on Abortion

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The Dobbs decision may be in the rearview mirror, but the abortion issue remains front and center. In fact, it’s becoming a winning platform for Democrats, as seen in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court election. Andy calls up New York Times politics reporter Reid Epstein and Capital Times reporter Jessie Opoien to discuss that race as a bellwether heading into the 2024 election season, and how Republicans are responding.

Keep up with Andy on Post and Twitter @ASlavitt.

Follow Reid Epstein and Jessie Opoien on Twitter @reidepstein and @jessieopie.

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Jessie Opoien, Andy Slavitt, Reid Epstein

Andy Slavitt  00:18

This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. Welcome, email me, Andy eliminated Sometimes there is a seismic shift, a seismic shift that affects the mood and the culture of the country. The 2022 Dads decision, negating Roe versus Wade, and allowing states to outlaw abortion may have been one of those events. The Biffa prestone court case that it’s currently being wrangled over in Texas may be another. It shouldn’t surprise anybody, take away someone’s autonomy, tell them that they can’t make decisions for themselves. And this is what you should expect. And for a number of decades, more […] beginning in 2016, and 2017. This is the message that women in the US are getting, and these rulings are having a significant impact. Witness what we’re going to talk about today, which is a seemingly obscure, off cycle election, in Wisconsin, where the outcome of the Supreme Court hung in the balance. And what counted the ballots even more directly. And specifically in the minds of the public, was whether or not we were going to be following a 19th century law on abortion, or whether or not abortion would end up being legal if the new Justice came to be seated. And the outcome of that election I think, sent shockwaves. A 10% or 11% margin of victory for the liberal Justice and the shockwaves had sent would ask the question throughout American politics, is this a seismic change? Is this the kind of thing that is going to be playing out state of state and at the federal election level, the politics of this issue are not mysterious, something like two thirds of Americans respect that women should have the right to have a choice in this matter. Some people are in favor of certain restrictions, some people are uneasy about the situation, there are some even who say they probably aren’t in favor of it for themselves, but believed that still women should have this right. So there’s a variety of opinions in there, but a very, very strong support. And so the politics of this issue, so far, appear to be terrible for Republicans. And the question is, is this something that is going to they’re going to keep digging deeper and deeper as women and men across the country, do fight to try to support what they believe to be the just answer here. And I think it is exactly what we’re going to explore today on the show. Jessie Opoie is in Wisconsin. She’s a terrific reporter. She’s the Capitol bureau chief at the Capitol Times. She’s terrific. And Reid Epstein is with the New York Times he covers national elections. And he has been also paying a lot of attention to the national implications of this Wisconsin election, and what it means. So we’re gonna dive into this because this could be the sign of a real shift and lengthy American politics or just figuring it out. Or maybe it’s not, maybe it’s a bunch of local factors that have come together. But boy, this appears to be an issue that Republicans are trying to run from, even as large parts of the party seem to be pushing further and further and further for more and more restrictions. So I look for this conversation. Let’s talk to Jessie and to Reid.

Andy Slavitt  04:51

Welcome to the bubble, Jesse. Thanks for being here.

Jessie Opoien  04:55

Thanks for having me.

Andy Slavitt  04:56

Read. Thanks for being on the podcast besides the Daily.

Reid Epstein  05:01

Great to talk to you.

Andy Slavitt  05:03

Okay, so, Jessie, is Wisconsin the most interesting political state in the country?

Jessie Opoien  05:10

Well, I mean, I live here and I cover Wisconsin politics. I think I’m obligated to say yes. But I do believe that it is. You know, I think every young reporters dream when they start covering politics is to go big and go to New York or DC and about, I don’t know, eight years ago, I said, well, I guess I’ll leave Wisconsin when it stops being interesting. And I’m still here.

Andy Slavitt  05:34

So tell us why Wisconsin is so interesting in the last couple of weeks.

Jessie Opoien  05:38

Well, I mean, historically, speaking just for a second, I mean, we’re the state of Joe McCarthy and Robert LaFollette, where the state that elects Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson were the state that elects Scott Walker and Barack Obama in the same year, we’ve always been interesting. But in the last few weeks, in particular, we’ve been interesting, because we had this huge deal State Supreme Court race, for the first time since 2008, the state Supreme Court here will have liberal control. And that will mean a lot of things. There’s a lawsuit coming forward, challenging the state’s 1849 abortion ban, that’s definitely going to make its way to the state Supreme Court. There’s a very strong possibility, expectation even that the state’s electoral maps will make their way back to the court again. And it also opened the door to challenge a lot of the things that were passed under Republican control for the state over the last decade or so when Scott Walker was governor when Republicans did as they still do have control of the state legislature, things like Act 10, right to work, a lot of things having to do with labor unions. So there’s really, the doors open at this point to potentially undo a lot of the things that have happened in Wisconsin in the last 10 years. And that’s big for liberals, and it’s big for conservatives trying to protect it.

Andy Slavitt  06:53

So I’m still stuck on you guys, […] Supreme Court. Okay. That is interesting. And so Wisconsin is sort of independent, 5050 ish state where the very famous while counties decide general elections that those are the counties, just outside of Milwaukee, you know, sort of the classic suburban voter. And there was no reason to think that, just like the Senate race isn’t governor’s races that this race or Supreme Court, which was built for all the reasons you said is very big raise wasn’t going to be also very, very close. What happened?

Jessie Opoien  07:31

That’s a great question. Now, we should actually look, I had forgotten this. So this is how short everyone’s memory is post COVID. In 2020, Dan Kelly, the Conservative candidate who ran this time, so he was appointed to the court by Scott Walker, when Walker was governor, he ran for a full time in 2020. And he actually lost to the liberal candidate in that election by about 10 points. And then he lost this time to Janet fair to say, what’s the Liberal candidate by about 11 points. So it’s not as much of an anomaly as I think a lot of us in the moment thought it was. That being said, yeah, we’re used to close elections here in Wisconsin, and I don’t think you can discount the power of abortion as a salient election issue at this point. I think it was huge in the midterms, with Tony Evers winning reelection. And I think that was in large part, what drove Janet […], was across the finish line this time.

Andy Slavitt  08:26

So Reid, is this a bellwether national race? Should we be interpreting from this race, that there is some sort of meaningful shift in the political landscape? Or is that just a one race, it’s a one off?

Reid Epstein  08:40

Well, I think what we are going to take from this racist political observers, and as what I will take, as someone covering it is the salience of the abortion issue, particularly in areas that have long voted for Republicans is not diminishing, as we get farther and farther away from the dog’s decision. I mean, if you were in Wisconsin, you know, Jesse lives in Wisconsin, I was there a handful of times over the course of the campaign and watched a lot of TV ads, and every ad from […] to say words and her allies, it seemed was about abortion. It was the messaging and literature they dropped on the doors. It was the messaging in the mail, it was the messaging on TV ads. If you heard her at the one debate that they had, she managed to get it into most of her answers. And I think that we what we sort of collectively are going to take away from this may be less about a political shift as far as who is going to vote for who but Democrats now know, and have a lot of evidence that the abortion issue, almost to the exclusion of everything else is a winning issue for them. You talked about the Waukesha County, Waukesha County is the state’s biggest Republican county. It’s just to the west of Milwaukee. It’s the historic heartland and basic votes for Republicans in Wisconsin. And it’s gone from giving sort of two thirds to 70% of its vote to Republicans in the sort of John McCain Mitt Romney era, to in November, Ron Johnson one and he got 63% of the vote in Waukesha, the Republican candidate for Governor Tim Michaels last statewide getting 60% of the vote in Waukesha. And that was basically the difference between winning and losing 3% in one county. And then, in the Supreme Court race, Dan Kelly was at 58% in Waukesha, which is just not a number, you can’t wait if you’re a Republican in Wisconsin, and you get 58% of Waukesha you can’t win statewide, numbers just aren’t there. And that sort of diminution of Republican support is tied almost directly to abortion. You can see it you could see it last fall, when Tim Michael’s the candidate for governor pronounced himself essentially, as in favor of the 1849 Wisconsin law that banned abortion in all cases, while Ron Johnson took a more nuanced position in calling for a statewide referendum to decide the issue, you know, gave him a bit of wiggle room on this issue that some of his fellow Republicans haven’t had. And certainly Dan Kelly didn’t have in the Supreme Court race. And I think that certainly made a big difference in helping Ron Johnson get over the line last November where his compatriots both in November then now haven’t been able to.

Andy Slavitt  11:33

I’m sure it’s too early to reach a complete verdict. But what I’m wondering is, is there some sort of permanent realignment that the abortion issue is causing not just in Wisconsin, but throughout the country? Would you go that far read.

Reid Epstein  11:50

I mean, I don’t think anything is permanent in American politics. So I would pump the brakes on permanent realignment of our politics. I mean, look at 2008 to 2010, or 2016 to 18. You know, politics can realign very quickly. And people have short memories, and their political loyalties are certainly not etched in cement. At the same time, I think that you’ll see in states where abortion is on the ballot, and where it’s sort of a live issue, we may continue to see this kind of sort of voter behavior.

Andy Slavitt  12:32

Let’s take a quick break. And let’s talk about how nervous Republicans are or should be. Maybe Jessie you could take us a little bit through what happened was this, was this a function of middle of the road voters who were swayed by this as a single issue? Or was that a function of turnout? Did more people say I am aware of this race? And there was more passion, left of center because of it? Or was it just you know, purely organizing? You know, Ben did just a great job raising money and spending money.

Jessie Opoien  13:32

I mean, I think, you know, Wisconsin Democrats, can I swear, because that little fire lit under […] after 2016/ You know, Hillary Clinton didn’t pay the state the due that, you know, I think a lot of voters thought she ought to have and after that, I think there was a huge effort to reorganize. And so yeah, Ben Winkler coming in and becoming the head of the party and taken over a lot of those fundraising efforts. I mean, he brought in national connections that the state party just really hasn’t had before. And that also happened to coincide with a lot of national interest in Wisconsin. So yeah, the state party is seeing money like it never saw before. And I, you know, you can’t say that that’s unique to this election. I mean, that’s been happening for the last few.

Andy Slavitt  14:16

But I will say this, I was in Minnesota for a while. I grew up in Chicago. So I have ties to both those communities. We knew tons of people. People were getting on buses, and going from Minnesota, and Chicago to knock on doors. And it was to the point where volunteers would tell us you couldn’t even get a call list. You couldn’t even get a door to knock on. There was so much effort in and interest in volunteering, those are just from the two neighboring states. But something elicited this passion something is different. Wisconsin it’s always been close to Ben wicker has been there for a while. And it’s I just keep coming back to what you both said which is abortion and I think for a long time, I would say Republicans have been better at being single issue voters and driving passion. You know, up until Dobbs, certainly on that issue, but also on judges and other kinds of issues, they’ve just been more motivated. And so while I take your point Reid that, you know, not to overread. This, it feels like we could see things in 2024 that are very different from what we’ve seen before.

Reid Epstein  15:31

Well, and I also think this race was unique, and I think will remain unique. Because there hasn’t been a race. I mean, I’ve certainly since stopped, and there probably won’t be another race in 2024, where a single election will determine the fate of abortion rights in the state, if you elect someone as the Senator, that personal loan doesn’t decide the fate of a whole range of issues, from abortion, to the 2024 election to the maps to the whole thing. And even in states where you elect the governor, the governor still has to work with a state legislature to get something through. But this was a race where, you know, the deciding seat on the Supreme Court that everybody knows is going to decide the fate of the state’s abortion ban, like within the next six to nine months.

Andy Slavitt  16:31

We’ve also had referendum, though, to be fair, in Kansas, and other places. I mean, there have been this has been increasingly on the ballot, you’re right in different ways. There’s and this is a unique structure. Right. But you have, Democrats are smart, they’re going to keep it on the ballot in every way possible. If it’s a breathing issue.

Reid Epstein  16:50

And I’m not trying to diminish the energy, the progressive energy around abortion, I think it’s real. And I think it will, you know, without getting too much into the prediction business, I think it’s they’re certainly going to try to sustain it. And I imagine, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t.

Jessie Opoien  17:05

Well, I would also say I mean, I do think abortion was the number one issue in this particular election. And I think in a very, very close, number two was redistricting. Gerrymandering is not like a sexy topic to talk about. But the thing that I have heard, as I’ve been talking to groups that spent big on this, or you know, groups that have any number of interests that are not necessarily focused on the abortion ban is that they want to see Wisconsin’s maps changed. And Janet Porter say what’s was very vocal about the fact that she believes that the maps are rigged. There’s obviously a lot of nonpartisan analysis out there that says we’ve got very gerrymandered maps here. And so I, I think that a lot of the issues that you can focus on abortion as a very specific issue, but anything beyond that, you can really say, you can tie it all back to the electoral maps and redistricting.

Andy Slavitt  18:00

Yeah, no, this isn’t partisan me wishful thinking that this is somehow changed thing. This is actually, you both seen it all of the Republicans are the Republican partisans, pundits, conservatives, etc, saying this margin of victory, even with other factors you pointed out took them very much by surprise. And it very much indicative it’s somewhat pointing to Florida, and I’m wondering, your perspective. You know, just to review the bidding. I think I have this right. Florida has currently a 15 week ban. But in a fascinating twist of political fate, Florida’s become the abortion haven of the South, which has got to be the most triggering thing to Ron DeSantis, ever. And so there is a bill, which he has said he would sign, which is a 6 week maximum abortion ban, which, if you ask any woman or any scientist, they would tell you that that’s effectively an abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant. So it’s really thought out to be a very, very tight ban. And he says he’s gonna sign it. And I’m just wondering whether that’s sounds like good politics, maybe for the primary, but pretty horrible politics for the general.

Reid Epstein  19:23

Yeah, I mean, it’s probably good politics for the primary. I think we haven’t, you know, we’ve had generations of Republican politicians, you know, pronouncing themselves 100% pro-life without having to articulate what that means. And this is going to be the first presidential cycle where that’s not really good enough for the voters. I think. There you’re going to see a Tim Scott on Wednesday, was in Iowa and was pressed about whether he would be for a national abortion ban. And the reporters that were there asked him over and over again. Are you for a national abortion ban, and he just kept repeating I’m 100% pro-life without having to spell out kind of what that means in real life. And I think that what we’re going to see, and what we have seen already is some of the anti-abortion groups that the conservative groups on the right are going to make policy demands of these candidates that will serve them in primaries, but are going to be pretty toxic in general elections. And we saw that with Tim Michaels last year in Wisconsin. You know, when he said the 1849 ban was a mirror of his position, and he was trying to win the primary. And then when that ad was in constant play, during the general election, it wasn’t so great for him, and he tried to walk it back. And so it’s very tricky for these candidates. And I don’t think that there’s really been a reckoning on the right about how to win general elections with that position.

Andy Slavitt  20:58

I think you put your finger on something really interesting, which is, that is one reason why I think Republicans have a policy advantage just like policy advantage. Many debates are Democrats, and that it’s easy to be easier to be against something than to spell your policies for it. And so the burden of proof, as you say, shifted to Republicans to say, Okay, your turn your balls in your court. Now, tell us what you would do. Don’t just say, I’m for life. That’s an easy thing to say, Now, you’ve got to actually construct policies. And Democrats are typically at a disadvantage because they like policies, they like laws, they like do things. And so they’re always flawed. And now the Democrats or Republicans are facing that in their face he had an issue with there’s a lot of passion. I’m wondering, Jessie, if this is in another line of things that I mean, I think back to the day of the woman in Washington, DC, the March, the day after Trump’s inauguration. And it feels like from that day on, women have been a combination of both much more energized and continually provoked. Is that your sense of things?

Jessie Opoien  22:11

Yeah, I mean, we I’ve definitely, you know, talk to Republicans in Wisconsin, who you both talked about the wild counties earlier. I mean, that’s an area where it’s, you know, highly educated suburban Republican women that are just dropping off. And they, you know, whether it was Donald Trump and the Access Hollywood tape or any number of things that have happened on abortion since then we’re, you know, any other sort of unpalatable cultural issue. There’s a real drop off, there’s a real issue for Republicans there, and they haven’t quite figured out how to solve it. At the same time. Yes, you know, I do think that Dobbs really, really did ignite something, again, we’re looking at ridiculously high levels of youth voter turnout here. Everyone always complains about how, you know, young voters don’t show up. And I don’t know if this is something that will continue or if this is a flash in the pan, but they have been showing up for the last two major elections here in Wisconsin. And I think you can attribute that in large part to the abortion issue. But at the same time, you’re also looking at, you know, women who were around before Roe, who are frustrated that this is something that they have to go over all over again. And I think that does cross some party lines here. And you know, I think we’ve seen that they’re out in the results.

Andy Slavitt  23:30

All right. In many ways, it feels like this race of Wisconsin was the kickoff to the 2024 presidential race are released the pre kickoff. So let’s come back and talk about what all this is going to mean leading up to next year’s election. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it’s almost here. So if you take this premise that this is at least a headwind for Republicans, I’m going to mix metaphors here read, I’m gonna go from the headwind tailwind metaphor to the digging holes, deeper metaphor, […] court ruling out of a very conservative court in Texas, which is now essentially, if you just clean pure political terms, has the potential to add insult to injury by taking the most common form of safe abortion, medical abortions, and finding ways to even make them illegal by making by essentially attacking the FDA. Do you think this is part and parcel or what effects do you think that that has Reid?

Reid Epstein  25:00

But I’m not a lawyer. So I am not qualified to speak to the legal case. But I think it was telling the lopsided reaction to the ruling. You know, you had every I think I saw within 48 hours of the ruling, there were something like 30 Senate Democrats that had issued an outrageous statement and only one Senate Republicans, Cindy Hyde Smith in Mississippi, who had weighed in at all on the decision, we’re going to see more and more that kind of dynamic where Democrats want to talk about abortion, you know, it’s going to be like, you know, when Joe Biden said, Rudy Giuliani was a noun or verb of 9/11, it’s going to be a noun and verb, an abortion for Democrats over the next year and a half. And Republicans are going to try to talk about anything else, whether that’s in Wisconsin, it was crime and public safety. It’ll be the recession, it’ll be about Joe Biden’s age. It’ll be about literally anything other than abortion or the trans population, but they are not going to want to I mean, it’s not doesn’t take a crack political scientists understand that this is a 60% to 65% issue for Democrats.

Andy Slavitt  26:17

Right. That that’s my point about […] which is just like the new hits are going to keep coming. And if the Democrats are worth their salt, I mean, not that they want those kinds of court cases, they surely don’t. But you know, this is going to stay in the news, that it feels like a tailwind. How big a tailwind? I don’t know. If you forecast that out to the general. Does the issue get dissipated amongst all the other things people are thinking about? You know, if you’ve got a Trump Biden rematch, does this issue sort of fade? Or do we think though the fires lit and the people who are out voting on this as their most important issue will be a forest in 2024.

Reid Epstein  26:59

Well, the fire is certainly lit. I mean, Joe Biden is probably not the Democrats ideal carrier of a pro-choice message, given his own tortured history on the subject. Because he like Joe Biden, he’s always been very uncomfortable talking about this issue. I mean, he didn’t say the word abortion at all in his 2020 campaign. And it wasn’t until well into his time at the White House, until he said the word abortion. There are other Democrats that are more comfortable with the Vice President is much more comfortable talking about it. There’s other younger Democrats who sort of have grown up with more contemporary politics who are more comfortable talking about it. And so I think it remains to be seen how much Biden himself is going to lean into this because I’m sure you know, he is going to want to talk about the things that he’s done. He’s gonna want to talk about infrastructure bill, he’s gonna want to talk about the pandemic response, he’s gonna want to talk about, you know, the middle class tax cuts.

Andy Slavitt  28:06

He’s running against Trump, right? Trump people want to make it about Trump too.

Reid Epstein  28:09

He’ll want to make it about Trump, but he’s gonna want to get up and talk about his accomplishments when none of those are as salient issues as abortion, which is something bad for his party that happened on his watch.

Andy Slavitt  28:24

Right. Jessie, it’s interesting. Trump said that the reason that Kelly losses because he didn’t seek his endorsement, it surprise, that it’s all about Trump. What kind of boxed is he feels like he’s in on this issue?

Jessie Opoien  28:42

I don’t know if Donald Trump knows what box he belongs in Wisconsin at this point, it’s certainly not the case that the Dan Kelly lost because he didn’t seek his endorsement. I mean, he in theory had his support to Michael’s who we’ve talked about the gubernatorial candidate who lost to Tony Evers had Trump’s full throated support. He had a huge rally in Waukesha County, boosting him and I think that’s what got Michaels through the primary. No doubt, I think that Trump endorsement really, really helped him in the primary, but when it came down to the general election, it either did nothing or it hurt him. I think that continues to be the case. And when it comes to abortion, I’m not sure how much you know, the that’s going to be a factor. I think that so much of what Donald Trump is banking on in Wisconsin is the fact that he wants to just rehash over and over again, this argument that the election was stolen from him here in 2020, which, obviously we know, based on many recounts and court rulings and many analyses that it was not, but I don’t think abortion really even factors into the Trump conversation here. I think it’s all about 2020.

Andy Slavitt  29:48

So Trump, if I remember correctly, narrowly won Wisconsin and 16 nearly lost it and 20 that ended up being a bellwether for the country. How Popular is Trump in Wisconsin now and how popular is Biden?

Jessie Opoien  30:05

Yeah, I mean, if we’re talking anecdotally, I think there are more Republicans who would, I don’t know if they wouldn’t be ready to vote for a Democrat, but they might abstain from voting if Donald Trump were the nominee. I think that there are more Republicans in Wisconsin who have just kind of given up on that, as opposed to there are plenty of Democrats who are really not thrilled about Joe Biden being the nominee for all of the reasons that we’ve talked about the age being more moderate, whatever, what have you pick your pick your issue, but they’re probably still going to show up and vote at the end of the day. So probably neither of them are particularly popular. But I wouldn’t say Biden would have the edge in terms of people who are willing to show up and actually cast the ballot for him.

Andy Slavitt  30:51

So really, does that mean that Biden benefits more from being that Trump than Trump does for being that Biden?

Reid Epstein  30:59

Yeah, I think that’s for sure. I mean, I think that Jesse’s right that nobody’s doing cartwheels over Joe Biden, I think are very few Wisconsin Democrats are doing cartwheels over Joe Biden. But nobody’s embarrassed to be for Joe Biden, among Wisconsin Democrats the way that you see, you know, Wisconsin Republicans, Robin Vos, the powerful assembly speaker, who has made a break from election denialism and beat a Trump endorsed primary challenger last summer, you know, has publicly said that the party needs to move on from Trump. You remember, Trump didn’t win in 2016. In Wisconsin, it was the last primary that he lost. And so there’s still sort of a healthy chunk of the party. That was sort of Trump skeptical from the outset. I talked to Scott Walker a couple of times during the Supreme Court race and like, I don’t know that he is still sort of an arbiter of what Wisconsin Republicans think, but he’s certainly ready to move on from Trump. You had Dan O’Donnell, who’s an influential conservative talk radio host in Milwaukee, wrote a long essay the day or two after the Supreme Court race. And he diagnosed the Republicans problems as being too tied to Trump being too against abortion, and getting outspent and we’re needing campaign finance reform. And if you had sort of told the Republican that those were the three things that they needed to change even a month ago, let alone before the last election, you would have been laughed out of the room. And now one of their sort of more high profile voices was making that argument. I think Trump’s pro general election problem in Wisconsin and other places, and this is not, not an original flood for me. Other people have said this, too, that there’s nobody who voted against Trump in 2020, who has watched the last two and a half years, and it’s gonna vote for Trump now. That voter just doesn’t exist in America. And so he’s got to add, you know, 25,000 votes in Wisconsin, 100,000 votes in Michigan, however many votes in Pennsylvania. And it’s just not clear to me where those votes are coming from for him in a general election.

Andy Slavitt  33:22

So I think we could maybe wrap on this note is that asked you to look a little bit forward from where it sits today. And the story’s gonna change month by month over the next 18 months. We know this. It feels like if I were a Republican political strategist, or if I were running McDaniel, and I were looking at that prospects, I would say right now, I feel saddled with Trump. And I feel saddled with the dogs ruling. And I don’t know how to change the reality is I neither of them, I could talk about other things. I could try to make it about law and order or the economy or transgendered people or you know why we shouldn’t be fighting a war and across the world or anything else. But it feels like two things that matter a lot to voters are likely to be permanent elements of what cards they’ve got to play in the next couple of years. So I invite both of you to offer your thoughts and last words or if you see that differently, Jessie, maybe we’ll start with you.

Jessie Opoien  34:28

Sure. I think, you know, looking at Wisconsin, I don’t think abortion is going away anytime soon. If you look back at the 2022 midterms, if you look at the races where the statewide races for candidates made abortion, the issue, it went well for them, it went well for those Democrats, the one standout the one anomaly there was the US Senate race, which was very close, but Ron Johnson did win and that was probably in large part because Ron Johnson and his supporters and affiliates successfully made that race about crime and about other issues that were not abortion and the Mandela-Barnes campaign didn’t, you know, manage to flip it back around? So, as far as Wisconsin goes, I think this, this is still issue number one. And if it’s not issue number one, it’s issue, you know, in the top 5.

Andy Slavitt  35:22

yep. And the Johnson-Burns race just may tell us something very simple. It still takes political talent in order to win and have the things fall your way. Reid, what are your final thoughts?

Reid Epstein  35:35

I think that that’s right, that abortion is going to be issue one, two, and three for Democrats, as long as it works. That’s the issue that has the biggest energy behind it. You know, it’s been Winkler told me, I think this was in one of our stories. It’s not only the issue that energizes the most democratic voters. It’s also the issue that turns the most Republican voters into voting for Democrats. And so as long as that’s the case, we’re going to hear a lot more Democrats running for office, leaning away into this issue, and in some cases, making it the animating or only issue that they are talking about in their campaigns.

Andy Slavitt  36:22

Jessie, Reid, thank you for both being in the bubble and following this issue so closely.

Reid Epstein  36:27

Thanks for having me.

Jessie Opoien  36:28

Thank you, Andy.

Andy Slavitt  36:42

Let me tell you what we have coming up on Monday show. Clarence Thomas, who for 20 years, has been apparently living a life of luxury, undisclosed heretofore paid for all by a conservative Republican billionaire donor named Harlan Crowe. We’re gonna have clarinets on the show on Monday, knowing that Clarence is not talking to us on Monday, but we are going to have the next best thing Michael Waldman is the president of the Brennan Center for Justice, that NYU School of Law. Fabulous. We’re going to talk about whether Thomas should be in the court. We’re talking about the court in general and maybe some other interesting things that are going on at the court level. On Wednesday. We are going to try to untangle what is happening with medication, abortions, the FDA, these dueling court cases, the Court of Appeals. This all has to do with mifepristone and the very unusual, very unusual ruling that has put the courts directly in the middle of a decision that has never been made by the courts before it’s always been made by scientists. That’s it. You’ve made it to Friday, the other week, and hopefully you’ll have a great weekend. I look forward to talking on Monday. I hope you listen in, thank you/

CREDITS  38:10

Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.

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