How Abortion Could Swing the Midterms – CNN One Thing

David Rind (Host)


Here’s a little fun fact about me. I love fall. Football’s back. The leaves change colors. No more sweating profusely every time I step out the door, like sign me up. Now that we’re past Labor Day, I have all that to look forward to. But Labor Day isn’t just the unofficial start of fall. It also means election season is going to start to ramp up in a big way. And this week, we gotta talk about it because sure enough, the midterms are just 51 days away. And beyond the usual questions of which party will control Congress and various statehouses. This year, some people are asking, What state will our democracy be in after all the votes are counted? On today’s episode, CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash joins me to lay out what we should know about the 2022 midterms and how the story of abortion is dividing voters in Michigan. But not in the way you might think. From CNN, this is one thing I’m David Rind.

David Rind (Host)


Hey There Dana.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Hi. How are you?

David Rind (Host)


I’m good. So. Things are getting serious now. We’re less than 60 days from Election Day, and I want to get a quick math check from you. Right now, Democrats are in control of both houses of Congress. How many seats do Republicans need to flip that balance?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Okay. You didn’t tell me there was going to be a math quiz.

David Rind (Host)


Yeah, I Know.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


And also, I went into journalism, so I didn’t have to do math. No, I’m kidding. Okay, so. Well, first of all, in the house, just literally a handful. It’s a net of five seats. That’s all Republicans need. It is the slimmest of majorities. How big of a majority if the Republicans do take it? That’s the open question. But it is very, very narrow in the Senate. The Senate is 5050 right now. And so it is about as slim as it gets right now, which is why all of the dynamics, the national mood, the the issues, the money that’s going in, the candidate quality, all of these things are so incredibly… I mean, they’re always important, but even more so when the margins are so thin.

David Rind (Host)


Yes. So let’s talk Senate then briefly, because that margin is so thin. Where are the pickup opportunities for Republicans? Like what are a few races that you have your eye on?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


One of the races for Republicans that they are looking at, therefore I am looking at is first and foremost Georgia. The race was down to the wire quite literally last time around. Raphael Warnock is defending his his seat. Herschel Walker is running against him. He’s the Republican. Arizona is a place where the Democrat, Mark Kelly, is trying to hold on to his seat. And there’s a question about whether or not Blake Masters, the Republican who won the nomination, there is the right kind of candidate. So those are the states that Republicans are really focused on in terms of pickups. The issue for Republicans is that they’re also defending a lot of seats. They have the open seat in Pennsylvania. Pat Toomey is retiring. We know that’s a high profile race. Mehmet Oz is the Republican nominee. And then you have John Fetterman, who is a very different kind of Democrat. Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke. And so there have been all kinds of questions that have been kind of going back and forth between the two of them. It’s very competitive in Pennsylvania. That might be one where Republicans lose a seat. The map should be one that is better for Republicans because there are a lot of incumbent Democrats up in purple states. But it’s it’s much more challenging than Republicans thought going into the election cycle.

David Rind (Host)


And you mentioned a few names there, Dr. Oz Blake Masters, those are Trump endorsed candidates, right? Yes. It seems like many of the candidates he’s backed either question or flat out deny the 2020 election results, which is especially concerning when we’re talking about secretaries of states or governors who are directly in charge of running elections. How big is Trump’s influence in all this?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


His influence is huge. J.D. Vance is a good example in Ohio, who wasn’t an election denier at the beginning, at least wasn’t an open one. In fact, if you go back to 2016, he was very critical of Donald Trump. When he got Trump’s endorsement, he started to put questions out into the ether, out to Republicans about whether or not the election was legitimate, whether the election in 2020 was stolen, and that was new. And that was clearly because he felt that he had to do that to live up to the Trump endorsement and to get the Trump voters who have come to believe that lie, that they have been fed for two years now by the former president and his supporters.

David Rind (Host)


Right. And seems so, so crazy that that could be an issue in this 2022 election. The results of the 2020 election, what are some of the other issues motivating voters these days?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Well, one of the most fascinating things to watch has been the way that the issue terrain has shifted over the past couple of months. The economy, the economy, the economy that frankly is always and was especially this year, the number one issue. And it still is a big issue, a huge issue. But because of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe versus Wade, abortion has become a dominant issue in many of these Senate races and governor’s races, a dominant issue. And so all you have to do is look at what happened in Kansas, such a red state. There was a referendum on the ballot about abortion and pro abortion rights. Voters came out in like out of the woodwork.

Ana Cabrera (Anchor)


Let’s start at the epicenter, Kansas, where voters delivered a big win for abortion rights.

Erica Hill (Anchor)


On Tuesday. Voters. Rejecting, as you can see, an amendment to remove the right to an abortion from the state constitution.

John King (Anchor)


Voters voted no by an overwhelming margin and voter turnout was high. When you add all that up, it is remarkable. Giving Democrats some hope the abortion issue just might rewrite the November election script.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


And what we saw in Kansas with the abortion issue actually on the ballot so voters can come and directly have their voices heard on this issue is also playing out in a handful of states, including Michigan, where we just went to see what exactly is happening on the ground.

David Rind (Host)


So before the break, you said the abortion issue is getting ready to play out in the state of Michigan and you guys went there to see what was happening. What did you find?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


It’s always really important for me as a reporter, especially a political reporter, to go and talk to actual human beings outside the beltway in states where their votes are going to determine who’s in the governor’s mansion, who’s in control in the Senate, in the House. Being in Michigan was so telling for me. I went to the state fair.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Tell me your name, please.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


And talk to voters of all persuasions.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Where do you stand on Gretchen Whitmer versus Tudor Dixon?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


You still haven’t decided fully if you’ll vote for her.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Have you decided who you’re going to vote for in the governor’s race here?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Which way are you leaning?

Well, I lean towards the Republicans.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


But was most striking were self-described Republican voters offering an unsolicited ways.

No, the abortion issue to me. Is simple. I mean, it should be up to the people.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Concerns about the Republican candidate for governor. Tutor Dixon, are you considering voting for Tudor Dixon, though?

Well, I don’t like some of our issues with abortion, so.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Concern that she is too conservative on the issue of abortion. These are Republican voters not necessarily saying that they’re going to vote for the incumbent Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer, but definitely expressing concerns about the Republican.

David Rind (Host)


But they’re saying what they’re saying like that just because she’s a Republican doesn’t mean they’re going to rubber stamp just because of the abortion issue.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Exactly. Just because the abortion issue. Just the opposite, actually. When you say on the abortion issue, what specifically do you mean about her position?

That her attitude is that there’s no in between. And I think that there’s issues that people come up with, like incest and and rape that she shouldn’t allow or I think that that should be allowed. You know, abortion should be allowed for those things.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


These are Republicans I talked to who are concerned that Tudor Dixon doesn’t allow for more options with regard to abortion.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


And are you happy with the way the Republican candidate for governor here expresses herself on abortion?

No. Not so far. I want to hear more from her. There’s been a lot of ads that have been put on by the Democrats, but I want to hear from her what she has to say.

If you take Tudor Dixon at her word when it comes to outlawing abortion, she’s told us exactly who she is.

Are you for the exemptions for rape and incest?

And one of the things that’s going on here is that Tudor Dixon so far has been pretty absent in the general election, on the airwaves, on the campaign trail, and.

No exceptions for rape and incest. But what about health of the mother?

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


She’s allowed Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the people who are supporting her Democratic Governors Association, other super PACs, to get in there and define Dixon as somebody who they describe her as just completely extreme on abortions.

Tudor. Dixon, that’s dangerous for Michigan.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


When I say that Tudor Dixon is allowing Gretchen Whitmer and other Democrats to define her. I saw that and I felt that firsthand as a reporter. They didn’t want to engage at all now because I wanted to have some balance. I did find somebody. We were at a Whitmer event and outside the event there were maybe a handful of people who were protesting. One of those protesters turned out to be a Republican candidate for state Senate who was happy to talk to me. And he really did explain the Republican point of view, which was they don’t think that abortion is going to be a big issue, that the economy is going to be the big driving issue and concerns about how things went down during COVID.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Governor, thank you so much for doing this first.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Whitmer, on the other hand. We went to several of her events and she did talk to me for a few minutes.

Gretchen Whitmer


What I can tell you is the vast majority of people in the state support a woman being able to make her own decision whether it’s one they would do or not.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


My impression is that Dixon is spending time raising money right now and that she is going to come out and try to define herself with paid media, with with ads. The question is whether or not that’s going to be too late, whether the perception among voters will have already been made.

Yeah. And so finally, do you get a sense that this abortion issue will be that driving factor that gets people out in this race and other races like we saw in Kansas?

In my lifetime, when I’ve seen abortion as a driving factor. It is exclusively, almost exclusively been on the right, on the left, not so much other issues have dominated. That has flipped in 2022.

Michigan board of elections


All right. So all those in favor of the motion signify by saying aye, aye. any Opposed. All right. That motion carries four – zero.

Shortly after we left Michigan, the state Supreme Court cleared the way for abortion to be on the ballot in November. And the way it’s written is it would establish a, quote, individual right to reproductive freedom, including the right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy. So what this means is that voters are going to go to the polls and decide not just on their elected officials, but also specifically will have a voice on the issue of abortion.

Kristina Lodovisi


My father is a Trump supporter, so we have regular conversations that are very heated and even he can come to understanding how important this issue is, and even he can understand that it’s not his right to take it away from us. It’s our choice.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


We saw it in Kansas with the referendum where Democrats believe that the concern about people’s wives, people’s sisters, people’s daughters and even sons and brothers, what will happen if an unwanted pregnancy or unplanned pregnancy happens? It depending on the state. It is something that is very much front and center in people’s personal lives. And it is definitely, definitely a driving factor again in Michigan, even in and among Republican voters I talked to.

David Rind (Host)


Hmm. Fascinating. Dana Bash, thanks so much.

Dana Bash (Guest: CNN Chief Political Correspondent)


Thanks for having me. Good to talk to you.

David Rind (Host)


One thing is a production of CNN audio. This episode was produced by Paola Ortiz and made David Rind. It was mixed by Matt Dempsey. Greg Peppers is our supervising producer. Faiz Jamil is our senior producer and the executive producer of CNN Audio is Megan Marcus. Special thanks. This week to Abby Sharp and Veronica Stracqualursi. Thanks for listening. And if you like the show, please leave us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts. It really does help us out. We’ll be back next Sunday. I’ll talk to you then.

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