Abortion Upends the Battle for a Dozen Key Governorships

The battle over abortion rights will be won or lost in state capitals, not Washington, now that the Supreme Court has overturned the federal constitutional right to the procedure. Governors have been handed new power when it comes to abortion. 

This reality has in the past three months upended battleground governor races, which is where the winners could quite literally determine the level of access to abortion for millions of women.

This has shaped gubernatorial races across the nation. The way candidates are running on the issue is exceptionally polarized, with Democrats going all in on the issue and Republicans trying to stay as far away from it as possible. 

Spending on abortion-related ads shows how thoroughly abortion has transformed these races. The issue has given Democrats an opportunity to go on offense in an otherwise challenging year for them.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade three months ago in June, Democratic gubernatorial candidates and outside groups have spent nearly $34 million on television ads that mention abortion. 

By contrast, Republican gubernatorial candidates have collectively spent around $1.1 million on television ads mentioning the procedure. Some Republican gubernatorial candidates who have not tried to triangulate their position with ads on abortion have sought to downplay it.

Republican advertisements have instead focused on any other issue, such as the economy or crime. 

There are 36 governor races in this year’s quickly approaching midterm elections in November. About half are expected to be close, competitive races. 

Abortion is at the top of the mind of voters in multiple states, including Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where pre-Roe laws banning the procedure in nearly all cases are being challenged in court. 

Republicans currently control more gubernatorial seats across the U.S. heading into the midterms, with 28 governors compared to 22 for Democrats.

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