This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.

On June 24, the US Supreme Court denied a constitutional right to an abortion, overturning its Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. I covered this and two other late June right-wing decisions by the court in an early July article.

Read more:
How the US Supreme Court has become right-wing, and do recent decisions give Democrats hope at the midterms?

When this article was written, the court was historically unpopular, but so was US President Joe Biden. I thought it unlikely abortion would help the Democrats in the November midterm elections, given Biden’s unpopularity and the high inflation.

But in the last month, Democrats have gained in the national House of Representatives popular vote and in the FiveThirtyEight Senate forecasts. In my July article, Republicans had a 2.0% national lead over Democrats, an 87% chance to win the House and a 55% chance to win the Senate in FiveThirtyEight poll averages and forecasts.

Now FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats a 60% chance to win the Senate, while Republicans still have an 80% chance to win the House. Democrats have a tiny 0.1% national lead over Republicans, their first lead since last November.

Biden is still unpopular with a 55.5% disapproval, 39.8% approval (net -15.7). But Democrats are doing far better than we would expect from Biden’s ratings.

There are still three months to go before the November 8 midterm elections, and Republicans could advance again. But at the moment, abortion appears to be helping Democrats, and recent economic data is likely to also help.

At these elections, all 435 House seats and 35 of the 100 Senate seats are up for election. Democrats won the House in 2020 by a 222-213 margin, and hold the Senate from a 50-50 tie on Vice President Kamala Harris’ casting vote. Twenty-one Republicans and 14 Democrats are up for election in the Senate.

The Democrats’ biggest triumph occurred at an August 2 referendum in Kansas. Republicans attempted to remove a right to an abortion in the Kansas state constitution by a referendum. In this case, a “no” vote preserved the abortion right, while a “yes” would have scrapped this right.

The “no” side won this referendum by a landslide 59.0-41.0 margin. Kansas is a right-wing state that voted for Donald Trump over Biden at the 2020 US presidential election by a 56.2-41.5 margin. The swing from the 2020 election to this referedum was 32.7 points to the left.

In Kansas, a referendum to remove the right to abortion was resoundingly defeated.
Tammy Ljungblad/AP/AAP

Abortion important at midterms due to stripping of rights

I believe abortion has become important as the large majority of voters would have assumed it was settled law, and the Supreme Court would not reverse its 1973 decision.

Gun control is another issue where Republicans appear extreme, particularly to an international audience. But in this case, gun control advocates are trying to strip people of their “right” to bear arms. The side that thinks their rights are in danger of being stripped, whether that’s guns or abortion, is more motivated.

This July 22 Vox article said 13 states now have abortion bans, nine of these without exceptions for rape or incest (Oklahoma is unclear). Nine more states have abortion bans that are currently being held up by state courts, with four including exceptions for rape or incest.

A ten-year-old girl who became pregnant from rape in Ohio was forced to have an abortion in Indiana owing to Ohio’s total abortion ban. Indiana has now banned abortion from September 15, though with exceptions for rape and incest.

For much of his first year as president, Trump had near his worst ratings in the FiveThirtyEight tracker, likely due to his attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). These efforts were supported by Republicans who controlled both chambers of Congress. The repeal of Obamacare failed by just a 51-49 margin in the Senate.

When Obamacare was first enacted in March 2010, it likely hindered Democrats at the November 2010 midterm elections, which Republicans won easily. But the reaction to efforts to gut Obamacare demonstrates the electoral potency of stripping of rights already acquired.

Since 2006, the non-presidential party has won every midterm House election convincingly. Republican George W. Bush was president in 2006, when Democrats won. Democrat Barack Obama was president in both 2010 and 2014, when Republicans won, and Trump was president in 2018, when Democrats won.

By striking down Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has given Democrats an opportunity to be an opposition party. This could help Democrats retain their Congressional majorities.

Drop in inflation could help Democrats

Inflation has been the Democrats’ biggest economic problem this year. But the July inflation report (released Wednesday) had headline inflation unchanged, down from a 1.3% increase in June. Real wages increased 0.5% in July after falling 0.9% in June, though they are still down 3.6% in weekly terms for the 12 months to July.

In the July jobs report (released August 5), 528,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment rate was just 3.5%. While the unemployment rate has returned to its level in February 2020, prior to the COVID pandemic, the employment population ratio – the percentage of eligible Americans employed – was 60.0% in July, 1.2% below its February 2020 level.

The robust jobs report contradicted the two successive quarters
of negative GDP growth in both the March and June quarters that is often used to define a recession. Note that the US annualises its GDP data. In Australia’s quarterly terms, the contraction would be 0.4% in the March quarter and 0.2% in June.

Senate passes $US 739 billion health and climate bill

The US Senate on Sunday passed a USD739 billion bill that prioritises health care and climate change action. This bill was passed 51-50 on Harris’ casting vote with all Democrats in favour and all Republicans opposed. The House is expected to pass it Friday (Saturday AEST), then Biden will sign it into law.

The Senate usually requires a three-fifths majority (60 votes) to pass legislation, but only a simple majority is required for “budget reconciliation”. Not everything qualifies for reconciliation, and one clause of this bill was stripped out as it failed the reconciliation test.

This is a major legislative triumph for Democrats that had seemed unlikely after their most conservative senator, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, had twice rejected earlier versions. Democrats will hope this legislation boosts youth turnout at the midterms.

FBI raids Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and byelections

The FBI on Monday raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. While it would be satisfying for the US left if Trump went to prison, I do not think it will be important for the 2024 presidential election. If Trump can’t run, Republicans are almost certain to nominate another very right-wing candidate for president – current Florida governor Ron DeSantis would be the favourite.

Read more:
As the FBI raids Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump reaches for unconvincing historical parallels

Republicans won Tuesday’s federal byelection for the Republican-held Minnesota first Congressional District by a 51.0-46.9 margin, but that was down from Trump’s 54.0-43.9 margin over Biden in 2020 in this district (see Daily Kos elections). Byelections will occur in three more federal seats in the next two weeks.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.