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With abortion access on the ballot in Florida, Democrats say they see an opening

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a reality of state-by-state battles over abortion. Ever since the Supreme Court erased a constitutional right to abortion, voters have upheld that right in numerous states, even red states like Kansas or Ohio. This year, advocates are working to get abortion rights measures on ballots in numerous states, swing states like Arizona and Republican-leaning states, including Florida. The state Supreme Court there has allowed a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would guarantee access to abortion up to about 24 weeks instead of 6, which is the impending state law. Democratic strategist Alexandra LaManna is following all this and is on the line. Good morning.

ALEXANDRA LAMANNA: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

INSKEEP: I'm just thinking about Florida here. In Donald Trump's time, this former swing state became a firmly red state. What happens now?

LAMANNA: Yeah. So I think Florida's decision on Monday is a huge opening for Democrats. Biden is in a stronger position to win Florida than he was in 2020, but, you know, it's also important to remember that they are using a huge cost advantage and pursuing a lot of different ways to get to 270.

INSKEEP: You mean that Biden is using different ways to get to 270?

LAMANNA: Exactly.

INSKEEP: Biden doesn't absolutely need Florida, but it sure would help any Democrat.

LAMANNA: It sure would.

INSKEEP: So talk this through for me. How would an abortion rights measure on the ballot, which now seems likely to happen, affect the voting for offices on the ballot, including the presidency?

LAMANNA: Yeah. So Florida's ballot initiative is going to boost a lot of energy and turnout among the base and liberal voters. But beyond that, abortion is an issue that is driving a more diverse, expanding segment of voters, and that group is mobilizing as well. You know, I think that Floridians are going to show up to support this ballot initiative, which is tremendously good news for Biden and the Democrats. But it's also extremely important, for both Joe Biden and the campaign to restore abortion access, to make clear that voters in Florida have to vote for both the ballot initiative in support of abortion, but also for Joe Biden, because if Trump wins, he will enforce a national ban, and that will supersede whatever the results of Florida's ballot initiative will be.

INSKEEP: Oh, well, let's talk that through for a moment. First, we're thinking here - I'm just trying to imagine this. You tell me if I'm wrong. We're thinking here of stereotypically, classically suburban white voters who might lean Republican on a lot of issues, maybe have voted Republican in the past, but they support abortion rights and may come out for that. Is that correct?

LAMANNA: Exactly.

INSKEEP: OK.

LAMANNA: But it's also more important, you know, to expand even that. There are men. There are, you know, people who know women who've had an abortion who might choose not to get one for themselves, but don't want their freedoms taken away. This is more than just about abortion and what you would choose for yourself. This is about whether or not the government is interfering with choices, and that is something that I think resonates beyond women, beyond suburban women. It's really just about American rights and democracy.

INSKEEP: It's interesting, though. You mention, you allude to another thing. You could imagine a voter who votes to uphold abortion rights, votes for this constitutional amendment, votes for one of the measures in numerous states across the country, but also says, I'm OK with Donald Trump. I like him on other issues. And Donald Trump, even on abortion, has said he favors a national ban, but at 15 or 16 weeks, something like that, which more people might find acceptable.

LAMANNA: Well, I think first, it's important to remember that Trump has said that he would support and is looking at any kind of ban, so we can't rule out that he's in favor of a six-week ban or in favor of anything else that, you know, these MAGA Republicans have been proposing, like taking away IVF. So I think that's just a really important thing to remember about Trump. It's also just important to know that he is going to take away abortion, regardless of what happens with these states and with ballot initiatives, and voters just have to remember that at the ballot box, there's only one candidate running for president who supports abortion rights.

INSKEEP: Alexandra LaManna, Democratic strategist, thanks so much.

LAMANNA: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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