Recent polling from the Global Strategy Group’s The Rocky Mountaineer shows that abortion is a key issue motivating voters during the 2022 elections. According to the poll, “Colorado voters oppose SCOTUS’ decision to overturn Roe by a margin similar to what we saw in June. Now, an even stronger 70% agree that all women in Colorado should have access to abortion care (up from 67% in February).”
Abortion has been a major issue in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Republican businessman Joe O’Dea. Throughout the campaign, O’Dea has tried to stake out a middle position between hardline anti-abortion voices in the Republican base and the fact that abortion is overwhelmingly a popular issue with voters. According to Mountaineer poll, “Nearly two thirds of voters believe that if the GOP takes power in Colorado, they will try to ban abortion here; and big margins also believe that if they take power in DC, they’d try to ban abortion nationwide and that electing O’Dea would make it more likely that the Senate would vote to ban abortion.”
O’Dea has claimed that while he doesn’t support Colorado’s Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), which enshrined abortion protections in Colorado law, he also claimed he did not support the overturn of Roe. But he also said he would support the confirmation of the justices that overturned Roe. O’Dea also signed the petition to get failed Proposition 115 on the ballot, which would have banned abortion after 22 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest.
In his response to a Church Voter Guide question about protecting the “unborn,” O’Dea responded, “I was raised a Catholic and I was adopted. I am personally pro-life. I also think the men and women who adopt and provide foster care are real-life heroes.”
Yesterday O’Dea campaigned in Castle Rock with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who has pushed for a federal abortion ban and blocked legislation to guarantee access to contraceptives.
O’Dea has consistently tried to shift focus away from abortion, claiming he isn’t running on “social issues,” but rather the economy and inflation. The Mounaineer poll found that among voter concerns, abortion actually trumps the economy. “When abortion is matched against taxes and inflation as an issue, it shifts the votes significantly towards Democrats,” notes the poll. “The political benefit for Democrats is biggest among center-right white voters, particularly white non-college voters and those outside of the Denver Metro region.”
The poll also reports that measures like Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) proposed 15-week abortion ban, “boosts motivation among pro-choice voters and Democratic and unaffiliated women while, perhaps just as important, significantly decreasing motivation among anti-choice voters and Republicans.”
During an Oct. 12 appearance, O’Dea told KOA host Marty Lenz that he wouldn’t support Graham’s bill. “Lindsey Graham’s bill, that can’t get 60 votes,” he said. “Neither can [Sen. Chuck] Schumer’s [D-NY]. We need something that is in the middle, people can get behind and support. You have to get 60 votes to get it through the Senate.”Mountaineer’s polling suggests that 50% of voters will choose Bennet, with 35% going for O’Dea.
Abortion has also played a role in the Governor’s race between incumbent Gov. Jared Polis (D) and University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl (R). Ganahl ripped up a copy of RHEA during a March primary debate in Douglas County, and again pledged to “rip up that disgusting bill” during Sunday’s debate with Polis in Colorado Springs. In her Church Voter Guide response, Ganahl said, “I will fight to reverse the gut wrenching abortion legislation that Governor Polis signed into law.”
The Mountaineer shows Polis leading Ganahl, 54% to 33%.