Democrats want to flip Florida with its abortion vote. It will be difficult, history indicates. (Part-1)

Tallahassee — Florida has become a red state, but Democrats think a ballot question to protect abortion rights will make it the nation's largest presidential election swing state.

The California Supreme Court galvanized abortion rights proponents on Monday with two rulings: one allowing a six-week abortion ban and another allowing voters to remove the restriction while voting for president. “This puts Florida in play,” said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. Not just the national abortion referendum has helped Democrats in other states, Newhouse added. Florida voters will also have to deal with the new abortion restrictions for months before the November election.

While abortion rights advocates have won elections in other states, this is Florida, and Democrats have a history of disappointment, so it's unclear if the issue could turn Florida blue as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump prepare for a rematch.

Even after the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection by a landslide in 2022. Democrats correctly predicted DeSantis would further restrict abortion rights after he enacted new restrictions. In 2019, Republican pollster Adam Geller surveyed for Trump's campaign and claimed the abortion vote has been “really energizing” in moderate or somewhat conservative areas, but Florida is “obviously more Republican state.”

What Biden has now in 2024 is the burden of defending his record the last four years,” Geller added. “With all he has to defend in the last four years, abortion is simply going to get watered down and lost in the context of these other issues.”

Abortion wins at the ballot box even in Trump-voting states with Republican-majority legislatures. After Roe v. Wade, voters supported abortion rights in seven states, including Republican-leaning Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio.

In 2022, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have restricted abortion rights. KY voters rejected a 2022 ballot attempt to deny abortion constitutional rights. Key races last year focused on abortion rights, notably Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure enshrining safeguards in the state constitution.

After Monday's verdict, Democrats rushed to invest in Florida, one of the most expensive states for campaign ads. Biden bought Florida ads Tuesday to attack Trump on abortion rights. According to Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the state's high court has created a rare opportunity for Biden to win Florida.

On a phone conference with reporters, Chávez Rodríguez acknowledged the challenge of winning Florida, but acknowledged that Trump may not have the upper hand. Trump added, “We’ll be making a statement next week on abortion.” during a speech on Tuesday praising Florida’s six-week abortion ban.

Former president threaded the abortion needle. He often takes credit for choosing the Supreme Court judges who overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, triggering new restrictions. Trump has also often blasted fellow Republicans for being too rigid on the subject, blaming candidates who rejected exceptions for rape, incest, and mother-life threats for the party's election losses later that year.

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