Like Republican senatorial candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, Ece Bal, 28, who works in the healthcare industry in Philadelphia, is the child of Turkish immigrants to the United States.
But on the Wednesday morning following Oz’s defeat in Pennsylvania’s midterm elections, Bal pointed to a critical difference that led her to back her opponent, Democrat John Fetterman.
“Positions on abortion are absolutely important to me,” she said. “Fetterman is very pro-choice and didn’t want Roe [vs Wade] knocked down, unlike Oz. As a young woman living in the United States, I just don’t ever want to see abortion access become restricted in the state I live in.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Pennsylvania election results indicated that Bal was not alone, as the state’s Democrats clinched victory in hotly contested Senate and gubernatorial races.
Fetterman, the brash, hoodie-wearing Democrat, won an unexpected loss to former TV doctor Oz, despite suffering a stroke early in the campaign, while Democrat Josh Shapiro won the race for governor of the state by a wide margin over Trump-backed Doug Mastriano. .
Abortion’s impact on critical midterm races surprised many pundits, who had predicted that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the decision that enshrined the constitutional right to process, would have faded in the minds of voters since the summer. .
Yet from Michigan to Pennsylvania, exit polls and early vote counts showed women voters were more galvanized on the issue than pre-election polls suggested, with many indicating abortion came second only to voters. economic concerns.
In Pennsylvania, 35% of registered voters surveyed in the state Senate race said they were ‘angry’ at the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe vs Wade, AP data shows. VoteCast, a national survey of approximately 115,000 registered voters.
In the same race, women in the state preferred Fetterman over Oz by 53% to 45%, according to the AP’s survey of registered voters, while female graduates voted for Fetterman in Oz by 60% at 39%.
“I value my rights and those of my children,” said Susannah Bien-Gund, mother of two young boys, who had voted for Democratic candidates in the election.
“I’m relieved for Pennsylvania,” she added, referring to Fetterman’s win.
Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, a nonpartisan nonprofit, said Tuesday that voters had “rejected the false narrative that too often treats women and the issues that concern them as separate from the economy”.
“We have long said that women, who are the majority electoral bloc and a major driver of our economy, do not live their lives in silos,” Frye said in a statement. “They don’t see their economic security as separate from their ability to control their reproductive health.”
The influence of the women’s vote was also felt in other races across the country on Tuesday — as well as other statewide votes on social issues.
Democrats saw a similar trend in Michigan’s Pennsylvania, where the party won House and Senate majorities for the first time in 40 years, and also held firm in the races for governor and attorney general as well as in a tightly contested congressional district.
According to AP VoteCast data, women voted 56% to 43% for Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer against her Republican challenger Tudor Dixon, another candidate, while men voted 52% to 47%.
The divide was even steeper among college-educated female respondents, 62% of whom favored Whitmer versus 37% who supported Dixon. Thirty-six percent of all registered voters polled in Michigan said they were “angry” about the cancellation of Roe vs. Wade.
Women also tipped the scales in other statewide ballot measures on Tuesday. In Michigan, California and Vermont, voters chose to enshrine the right to abortion in their state constitutions, while those in more conservative Kentucky rejected an amendment that would have blocked any right to abortion. abortion at the state level.
The better-than-expected results for Democrats have raised hopes that abortion could be the issue that will ultimately determine Senate control — especially in Georgia’s Senate runoff, which is now slated to start. December after the Republican and Democratic candidates failed to clear. the required threshold of 50 percent.
While Republicans had pointed to skyrocketing inflation and President Joe Biden‘s low approval rating ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Democratic strategists say the results have now forced them to determine which issues are most salient for the electors.
Tom Bonier, a Democratic strategist and chief executive of TargetSmart, a data and polling company, said even in September women registered to vote in significantly higher numbers than usual in states where the abortion was on the ballot.
“Democrats appear to have outperformed by the widest margins in states where we were seeing the biggest gender gaps in registration since [Roe vs Wade was overturned],” he said.
In Georgia, Carrie, a 20-something lunch-buying voter in downtown Atlanta, said she had concerns about the economy but decided to vote for Democrat Raphael Warnock and that she would do it again in the second round.
“When you go to the grocery store and things cost a little more, it doesn’t help,” she said. “But it’s all about abortion.”
Rachel Marschke, another Atlanta voter for Warnock, agreed. “Here, this election is about women’s rights in general,” she said. “I hear people talk about gun control and voting rights in general, but that’s definitely abortion.”