The results of Midterm elections are being tallied across the country
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
And we are in the studio with NPR correspondents Claudia Grisales and Susan Davis. Sue, let me ask you - Democrats were really hoping that the Dobbs decision, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, was going to animate their voters to the polls. When you look at the 30-foot view, I mean, was that what voters were concerned with primarily - Democrats?
SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: It was a huge motivation. I think it was particularly a huge motivation for, in what our own polling showed, college-educated women and young women. I mean, that kind of makes sense, right? Abortion is an issue that was driving forces for the Democratic base. Midterms is always a question - are they going to turn out? It did juice turnout. It really boosted Democrats. I think one of the thing that helped Democrats as well is not just that they have the support of key blocs of women on abortion rights, but - and in a lot of these key races, the Republicans on the issue were very extreme. They didn't just oppose general abortion rights. They were in many cases and in many high-profile races, candidates that opposed any exceptions for abortion rights. Really...
MARTIN: And that's not where the American public is.
DAVIS: It's not where the public is. And it's not even where a lot of people who oppose abortion rights are. I mean, there are people on the right who still think there should be reasonable accommodations. And when you had Republican candidates running to such an extreme, I think that also further juiced turnout on an issue.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
I'm thinking that Democrats were able to take rhetorical advantage even in the cases where Republicans said, I have a more moderate position, I would support a 15-week ban. Democrats were able to push back and say, the way your party works is the most extreme voice is the one that's ultimately going to win out. They painted all Republicans as favoring total abortion bans.
DAVIS: And abortion is one of those issues where the parties have really sorted. There used to be, not that long ago, things known as pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans. There used to be a lot of them. Abortion was more of a gray issue in the political debate. It is not that way anymore. The two parties are very sorted on this issue, and I think voters get that. And these results were a reflection of that.
MARTIN: And, Claudia, there were some Democrats who were concerned that the party was putting too much emphasis on abortion when really it was inflation, the rising cost of gas and food and just feeding your family, that was of paramount concern.
CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Right. We saw a lot of Democrats running in races who pivoted. They were focusing on abortion very strongly during that run up into the summer and into the fall. But at the same time, they kept hearing from voters about these worries about costs and inflation, and they wanted to talk to those voters, too. So they pivoted, focused on that issue and at some points even took aim at the Biden administration and said, this is something that I'm worried about, and I want to work with the administration to correct.
MARTIN: NPR's Claudia Grisales and NPR correspondent Susan Davis in our studios as we continue our live election coverage of the results of the 2022 midterm election. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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