​​Democrats may somehow pull this off.

That’s the takeaway for the party’s midterm chances after a Democrat defeated a Republican in a special election for Congress in New York by campaigning hard on defending abortion rights. Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in June ending a constitutional right to abortion, Democrats have tried to turn elections into referendums on the issue and it appears to be working.

Only months ago, observers had written off the chances of Democrat Pat Ryan winning the swing district that Donald Trump carried in 2016 and Joe Biden won four years later. Instead, he not only defeated Republican Marc Molinaro but performed better than Biden did there in 2020. It’s the third time a Democrat has overperformed Biden in special elections for Congress this year, following similar results in Nebraska and Minnesota. In addition, an anti-abortion ballot measure lost in deep red Kansas by nearly 20 points.

After the high court’s Dobbs decision, Ryan adjusted his campaign signs to make clear that “choice is on the ballot.” That message won in a district that had been a tossup before Dobbs.

Molinaro’s biggest pushback on the issue of abortion was that that in such a deep blue state as New York that personal views on abortion didn’t quite matter. After all, as he told the Washington Post, “I had thought, like most Americans, that this was settled.”

It turns out that Molinaro may have been wrong. And, in a year in which Democrats have to defy the historic trend that the party who controls Congress and the presidency almost always loses seats in the midterms, that just might give them a chance.

Still, the special election isn’t a perfect proxy for Democrats on the eve of a challenging midterm cycle for the party mired by Biden’s low approval rating and high inflation. What’s more, the campaign occurred in late August, in a congressional district that will not exist next year thanks to a byzantine redistricting process. (In fact, while both Ryan and Molinaro will be on the ballot again in November, they will not be facing each other: Ryan will be running in the 18th district and Molinaro will still be running in the new 19th district.)

The vacancy that they were running for was created when two-term incumbent Antonio Delgado resigned to become Kathy Hochul’s second lieutenant governor after her first choice, former state senator Brian Benjamin, was indicted on federal corruption charges. The position as Hochul’s number two became especially appealing after New York’s original gerrymandered congressional maps were thrown out by the state’s highest court, creating the likelihood that at least one Democrat might be redistricted out of their seat.

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Democrats Are Riding the Backlash to the End of Roe

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24.08.2022

​​Democrats may somehow pull this off.

That’s the takeaway for the party’s midterm chances after a Democrat defeated a Republican in a special election for Congress in New York by campaigning hard on defending abortion rights. Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in June ending a constitutional right to abortion, Democrats have tried to turn elections into referendums on the issue and it appears to be working.

Only months ago, observers had written off the chances of Democrat Pat Ryan winning the swing district that Donald Trump carried in 2016 and Joe Biden won four years later. Instead, he not only defeated Republican Marc Molinaro but performed better than Biden did there in 2020. It’s........

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