The elusive “youth vote” has been increasingly sought after for decades, and conventional wisdom says young people are generally more liberal than their parents. In some respects that’s true. But on at least one issue, the conventional wisdom keeps being proven wrong: the protection of innocent unborn life.
A recent New York Times article provides fresh evidence that the Democratic Party’s promotion of abortion on demand for any reason, up until the moment of birth, is turning away younger voters, even though they may agree with the platform on other issues. The pro-life plank of the Republican Party, however, keeps “pulling them back,” according to reporter Maggie Astor.
After dozens of interviews with Republican voters ages 18-23, Astor writes (emphasis mine):
“almost all of them, while expressing fundamentally conservative views, identified at least one major issue on which they disagreed with the party line. But more often than not, they said one issue kept them committed to the party: abortion.
“…abortion is, very often, the issue that is sacrosanct — the one that outweighs their concern about climate change, for instance, and their dislike for Mr. Trump.”
Young pro-life women like me and my colleagues at Susan B. Anthony List and Women Speak Out PAC were encouraged – but not at all surprised – by Astor’s conclusions (though maybe a little surprised to see them in the pages of the Times). As our team has demonstrated over the last three election cycles, life is a winning issue.
Consider one case study from the SBA List/Women Speak Out PAC field team’s efforts in Florida in 2016. In a heated election year driven by the issues of immigration, health care, and guns, our team used one particular message to move our target audience of persuadable voters +17 points away from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump. Afterward, our analysis revealed that we had moved approximately 20,400 votes.
What was the message? Abortion. Specifically, Hillary Clinton’s radical pro-abortion stance including their support for late term abortion after five months – more than halfway through pregnancy and a point by which the unborn child can feel pain.
Before going door to door across the Sunshine State, we worked with a message testing firm to discover which aspect of Democrats’ radical pro-abortion stance was most powerful in moving voters. Their support for painful, late-term abortions after five months was by far the most powerful, moving Florida voters overall, with Hispanic voters responding much more favorably than the population at large.
Going on offense to call out Democrats’ extremism on abortion has always been a political winner when used effectively. SBA List used this same playbook in the 2018 midterms, backed up by proudly pro-life Senate candidates who championed their bona fides in campaign ads, debates, and rallies.
After she lost, former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) confirmed the effectiveness of our strategy. In an interview for the New York Times’ podcast The Daily, the defeated Democrat railed against pro-abortion activists in her state who had pressured her to talk more about abortion when what she really needed was moderate, pro-life voters to win.
The life issue is even more salient this year after a Democratic primary debate in which pro-lifers were explicitly told they have no place in the Democratic Party. In a New York Post opinion piece, pro-life Democrat and Fordham professor Charlie Camosy writes:
My broader values mean I can’t vote Republican, however, and this makes me one of many millions of Americans for whom our political duopoly doesn’t work. I decided to play the long game by joining the American Solidarity Party, a small but growing group that refuses to compromise on support for women, protection for prenatal children and solidarity for working people and the poor and vulnerable.
But millions of others who don’t share my broader values will reluctantly feel forced to check the box for a Republican in November. And Democrats will have no one to blame but their own extremism.
Charlie may not be able to pull the lever for Donald Trump, but the New York Times identified young voters who can, and will. And so has SBA List.
Those “millions of others” Camosy mentions are exactly the voters SBA List has spent the last four election cycles determining how to reach. While 34% of Democrats identify as pro-life, there is no list of these pro-life Democrats; they must be identified through sophisticated modeling techniques. SBA List’s entire field program centers on reaching these “persuadable” voters, along with traditional pro-life Republicans, and informing them about the stakes of the election.
The differences between 2016 and 2020 have only made it easier for pro-life candidates to go on offense and win. Pro-abortion governors such as Andrew Cuomo and Ralph Northam have gone viral with their shocking, tone-deaf displays of abortion extremism. National Democratic leaders from “AOC” to Joe Biden have further disgusted Americans by doubling down in defense of abortion on demand.
On the flip side, President Trump now has a well-established record as the most effective pro-life president in history. Unlike past Republican nominees, he knows the political saliency of his pro-life position and uses it to draw a contrast between himself and his opponents, bringing it up at every campaign rally, as well as his last two State of the Union addresses.
Perhaps the biggest reason we’re not surprised is that young people form the core of SBA List’s field team. Not only are they casting their votes for President Trump, they are actively encouraging others to join them. We are proud of the youth, diversity, and enthusiasm reflected in the faces of our canvassers – it’s why they are called the Pro-life Generation. As gratifying as it is to see their efforts acknowledged in the media, at SBA List we’ve had the scoop for a long time.
Mallory Quigley is Vice President of Communications for the Susan B. Anthony List and national spokeswoman for Women Speak Out PAC.