Ohio turnout data suggests abortion rights are the ‘most potent mobilizing force in politics’

Organizers in nine states are aiming to put abortion rights measures on the ballot next year, including presidential swing states like Nevada and Arizona, as well blue states such as New York that will be key to Democrats reclaiming the House majority.

Newly available turnout data suggests those measures could be “the most potent mobilizing force in politics,” according to a thread posted by Democratic strategist and data analyst Tom Bonier, CEO of TARA Group.

Bonier was sifting through individual turnout data from Ohio, where last month voters approved a measure codifying abortion rights by a whopping 13 points, 56.6% to 43.4%.

“In case anyone needs more evidence that abortion rights is the most potent mobilizing force in politics,” Bonier tweeted, “Turnout in Ohio’s election this year (with abortion rights on the ballot) was 95% of the 2022 general election.”

That’s a shocking statistic given the fact that it was an off-year election. In fact, Republican lawmakers surely sought to bury the measure in an off-year, hoping for a low-turnout, highly Republican activist electorate. But between ballot measures legalizing cannabis and codifying a constitutional right to reproductive freedom, 2023 drew a very different group of voters.

  • Turnout among women under the age of 50 was at 113% of 2022 levels.

  • 657,036 Ohioans voted in the 2023 November election who did not vote in the 2022 November election. Among those voters, women exceeded men by 14 points.  

  • Among the overall 2023 electorate, women exceeded men by 6 points, while in 2022 women only exceeded men by 3 points.

  • Voters under 35 increased their share of the electorate by just over 1 point. Bonier pointed out the anomalous nature of that stat. Odd-year electorates typically skew much older than those held in even years.

So not only did Ohio’s voter turnout wildly exceed expectations last month, but the electorate that showed up was also much younger and more female than expected.

That’s exactly the type of electorate that could help scuttle business as usual next year in states where Democrats could use a boost.

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