The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue of legalized abortion to the individual state legislatures was supposed to energize Democrats ahead of the midterms. The spontaneous protests that broke out almost immediately after the opinion was leaked by Politico seemed to confirm this.
That was the leftist fringe, however. As for the rank and file voter, a new poll suggests that the opposite is true: Republicans are actually the ones who have benefited from the leak.
According to a poll from CNN/SSRS taken between May 3-5, Republicans hold a 7 percent lead over the Democrats in the generic ballot, 49 percent to 42 percent.
Politico’s leak of the Roe v. Wade draft opinion happened on May 2. In a poll taken between April 28 and May 1, the generic GOP candidate was up to 1 percent, 45 percent to 44 percent. That’s a 600 percent increase in the GOP’s lead in the days following the leak of the decision.
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The outlet noted that “comparing the results of the new poll to one conducted immediately before the revelation of the draft opinion, the impact on the political landscape heading into the 2022 midterms appears fairly muted.”
“The share of registered voters who say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall rose 6 points between the first survey and the second, but that increase is about even across party lines,” CNN noted.
“Among Democrats, 43% now say they are extremely or very enthusiastic, up 7 points. Among Republicans, it’s 56%, up 9 points. And voters who say overturning Roe would make them ‘happy’ are nearly twice as enthusiastic about voting this fall as those who say such a ruling would leave them ‘angry’ (38% extremely enthusiastic among those happy, 20% among those angry).”
The generic congressional ballot was the kicker, however.
The CNN release lists generic-ballot polling results going back to 1997. The 7 percent lead recorded for the GOP in the most recent poll ties the biggest spread for the party in a quarter-century.
To find an equivalent lead for the generic Republican Party candidate in the CNN/SSRS poll, you have to go back to September of 2010, right before midterms where the Democrats were crushed and Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives by taking 63 seats.
In that poll, 52 percent supported the GOP candidate against 45 percent who supported the Democrat.
While the registered voters in CNN’s poll said they didn’t think Roe v. Wade should be struck down (66 percent) and, failing that, wanted Congress to establish a nationwide right to an abortion (59 percent), the leak doesn’t seem to have energized Democrats — which was, from the outset, what commentators seemed to believe it would do.
It’s important to note that the poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percent. But even with that — and considering that in a CNN poll the margin of error will almost certainly favor Democrats — the point seems to be clear: The leak has backfired.
Still, CNN explained the counterintuitive nature of the results as only CNN could.
Calling the GOP’s 7 percent lead “a narrow edge” and “a slight improvement” over the previous poll, the outlet cited economic factors as the cause.
“On the economy — the issue most likely to be a driving factor for voters this fall — nearly half of adults (46%) in the latest poll say the Republican Party’s positions are more aligned with their own, compared with 31% for the Democratic Party,” CNN reported.
“Those findings suggest the overall picture for the midterm elections is little changed after this week’s news, at least in the short term. Only about half of the country say they have heard a great deal or a good amount about the draft Supreme Court opinion thus far (49%), with 51% saying they’ve heard just some or nothing at all about it.”
However, the economy, bad as it might be, was little changed between the two polls. No stock market crash hit, no major financial crisis happened.
What did happen was that Politico published a leaked draft opinion, reportedly supported by five justices, in which Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and “must be overruled.”
There was supposed to be no potential upside to this for Republicans, which is why analysts seem to believe the most credible explanation for the leak was that it came from someone clerking for a liberal justice.
Whether or not that turns out to be true remains to be seen. However, much like Alito wrote regarding Roe, the idea that overturning the invented constitutional right to an abortion would shift the midterms dramatically to the Democratic side seems to have been “egregiously wrong from the start.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.