Two factors in determining who will win an election are voter enthusiasm and voter turnout. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about women registering to vote in high numbers since the Dobbs v Jackson decision limited abortion rights. A significant, sudden increase in voter registration is a sign of enthusiasm.
Calpeek readers know that voter turnout is often the key to an election’s outcome. Although polling data is limited, women are expected to turn out to vote in higher numbers than would have been expected before the Dobbs decision was announced. However, that is not the case everywhere.
The Director of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas in Austin, Ronnye Stidvent, told NPR that although there was a surge in women voter registration in Kansas and Pennsylvania, there was not necessarily a surge in other states. She questioned if the threat to abortion rights is “…enough to sustain the enthusiasm as we head into the midterms? Are we going to continue to see that enthusiasm? Because it wasn’t just voter registration that was happening in Kansas; they had a really high voter turnout in that election, especially for a primary election.”
Pundits and news outlets often focus on national elections, and national polling, but it is important to remember that all politics is local. Enthusiasm and turnout might be strong in some districts and not others. According to Forbes, “Female voter registration activity in states where abortion rights are well protected was less pronounced, with only Colorado seeing a gender gap of at least 10 percentage points.”
Because pro-choice voter feel that abortion rights are secure in California, they may be less enthusiastic to turn out and vote. Those who think turnout among Democrats will be significantly higher than in previous years should be watching changes in voter registration data and polling on enthusiasm among voters.