‘We are expecting a tough session’: abortion in Iowa after midterm election

Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 10:16 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa had no abortion referendums on the ballot last week, but Megan Goldberg, Assistant Professor of American Politics at Cornell College, said it was “softly on the ballot.”

Goldberg also said Iowa saw a “red wave,” even though other states did not.

How does the red wave square with the fact most Iowans support abortion access? Mazie Stilwel, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood North Central States, cited a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll that stated 61% of Iowans support abortion access of some kind.

Goldberg added that number sounded about right. “There’re a few researchers at MIT, at George Washington University, who have done a lot of work to put together estimates of public support for abortion at the state level,” said Goldberg. “What they find is, in most states, over 50% of people support some sort of access to abortion. The same is true for Iowa.”

So, again: why the red wave despite broad support for reproductive rights?

Goldberg said the fact that abortion was not directly on the ballot as a referendum or constitutional amendment might have been a factor.

“We see support for abortion access outstripping support for some Democratic candidates,” said Goldberg. “It’s really hard from this sort of, like, top-level aggregate data to infer sort of on the individual level what’s happening, but it does suggest that there might be something sort of lost in translation where folks are voting to support abortion access, or support abortion access in some way, but that doesn’t always directly translate to support for Democratic candidates.”

And of course, support for abortion is far from the only issue on voters’ minds.

“It might be that people are just voting for different reasons,” said Goldberg. “There’s a lot of sort of post-election discussion of what was driving people to the polls, you know, sort of conventional wisdom and stuff like the economy, how you’re doing with your financial situation, and how you view the economy sort of as a whole, that that can really drive people.” She added, “I think it’s sort of hard to say what issue right now was was sort driving Iowans.”

Apparent contradiction aside, the question is now: what next? TV9 reached out to Iowa Senate Majority leader Jack Whitver’s office to talk about GOP priorities moving ahead with a supermajority. We did not receive a response.

Stilwell said, “We have seen attacks before and we know that we’ll see more in the future, and we are ready to take those on and ready to adapt to any any scenario that we are put in.”