A 'Post-Outrage World': Abortion Won't Be the Winning Issue Democrats Think It Will Be

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

There are two kinds of people in the world. First, there are political activists. The second kind of person is every other human on the planet.

Political activists see the world through very different spectacles than the rest of us. And many times, what they see isn’t really there at all. But they sure hope it could be.


It’s called the rose-colored glasses syndrome, and Democrats have it bad this year.

All we’ve been hearing for the last week, following the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the restrictive Mississippi abortion law, has been Democratic activists predicting a massive backlash by women voters at the polls in 2022. Apparently, the activists believe that tens of millions of women can’t live without the right to abort their babies and will descend on the polls on election day 2022, handing Democrats a titanic victory.

Democratic politicians who listen to that tripe deserve whatever fate is in store for them.


“It hasn’t moved people to the polls in places like Virginia and New Jersey this year. It wasn’t an issue in either state,” said Julie Roginsky, a former top adviser to New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, who won reelection this year, but by a far narrower margin than expected. “I wish we lived in a world where outrage mattered. But I think we live in a post-outrage world, and voters today are affected only by that which directly affects them, which is why the economy, affordability and cost of living is such a major issue for so many people. While a lot of people will express sympathy for that 12-year-old girl in Texas who got raped but no longer can terminate her pregnancy, it’s not what motivates them to go to the polls, sadly.”

America is, indeed, suffering from “outrage fatigue,” a phrase I may have coined back in 2005. It’s amplified by the constant barrage of negativity and warnings of imminent catastrophe.


It’s become so immersive, so stifling, that people are simply tuning out the noise and outrage and escaping to whatever video game universe suits them.

Reasons to be hesitant about Roe’s role in the midterms are plentiful. While a majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in most cases and pollsters saw the issue rise as a motivating factorfor Democrats after the Texas case, abortion does not appear to be a top priority to voters overall. In an Economist/YouGov poll last month, abortion ranked behind taxes and government spending, health care, climate change and the environment, immigration and jobs and the economy as an issue of significance. That’s in line with exit polling from both 2016 and 2020, when the stakes on abortion and the Supreme Court could not have been more clear.

In 2016, despite then-candidate Donald Trump pledging to nominate “pro-life” justices and Hillary Clinton’s explicit warnings about the implications for Roe, only about one in five voters ranked Supreme Court appointments as the most important factor in their vote — and by a wide margin, those voters were more likely to be Republicans, according to exit polls.

The left has never acknowledged the legitimacy of arguments against Roe, calling it “settled precedent.” More to the point, the left has ignored the feelings of almost half the country on the question of legal abortion.

Related: Upholding the Mississippi Abortion Law Would Be Mainstream

And they’ve completely and deliberately misrepresented what the polls they claim show continued support for Roe actually say.


About 65 percent of Americans are not ideologues on the subject of abortion, and, in fact, most Americans fall into a gray zone on abortion.


Overall, perspectives on abortion tend to fall into three main camps. The first camp is a relatively small chunk of Americans (about 10 to 15 percent) who think abortion should be illegal in all cases. The second camp is a larger minority (about 25 to 30 percent) who want abortion to be legal in all cases. And the third camp is the majority of Americans (about 55 to 65 percent), who fall into a gray area, telling pollsters that they want abortion to be legal in some or most cases.

Politicians from either side who make abortion a centerpiece of their campaign are asking for trouble. And a political party that makes abortion a central theme of its campaigns is committing political suicide.

Republicans should say to Democrats who want to make a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe a centerpiece of their campaigns, “Bring it on!”


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