If I were Glenn Youngkin, my anti-abortion views notwithstanding, Im not sure Id welcome the Supreme Court tossing Roe v. Wade. During his successful campaign this fall, Virginias now-incoming governor did his best to steer clear of the issue, as multiple media outlets have documented.
The keys to Youngkins victory were very high turnout and support levels in rural Virginia, home to a disproportionate share of Trumpified right-wing evangelicals, and higher levels of support in the states suburbs and exurbs (such as Loudoun County) than Republicans had attained during the preceding decade. Once Roe is either pared down or nullified altogether, however, those right-wing evangelicals will demand banning abortion outright in the state, while many thousands of the suburban women (and some men) who drifted into the Republican column last November will demand abortion rights.
Whats an incoming governor to do?
In states and districts where Republicans must attract suburban swing voters to win elections, abortion is a wedge issue pitting those voters against the Republican base. Given everything thats going on these days, a Roe repeal probably wont rise to the level of an electoral deus ex machina for the Democrats, but its almost certain to shift the vote of the nations Loudoun Counties more decisively back to the Democrats come next November and, quite possibly, in November 2024 as well. And the louder the base screams, as it surely will, for a ban on all abortions, even in the case of rape or incest, the shakier the partys hold on all the little Loudouns will become.
Once Youngkin takes office, Republicans will control the legislatures lower house but Democrats will hold a one-seat majority in the state Senate. That lower house is likely to pass a ban, while its not clear what, if anything, will emerge from the Senate. Youngkin may think that legislative gridlock is his friend, allowing him to remain relatively mute on the subject. His party, however, will want and expect him to be volubly and aggressively pro-ban. (Its worth noting that its evangelicals, not Catholicsa majority of whom are pro-choicewho power the anti-choice movement, and that they got, and keep, this pro-life religion only in reaction against the emergence of a mass feminist movement in the 1970s, and its continued existence today.)
Will Republicans come to regret getting what theyve wished for? Keep a close eye on new Gov. Youngkin.