(NewsNation) — The literal stakes were small in the special election for New York’s 19th Congressional District on Tuesday. But on a broad scale, it’s thought to be a bellwether for November.
Democrat Pat Ryan’s defeat of Republican Marc Molinaro in the swing district garnered special attention because it highlights the fact that a woman’s right to choose can be a decisive issue that crosses partisan lines.
Molinaro focused his campaign on crime and inflation, saying his constituents work too hard for too little in return. Ryan campaigned hard on the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.
His first campaign ad centered on the issue, saying on social media, “How can we be a free country if the government tries to control women’s bodies? That’s not the country I fought to defend. Freedom includes a woman’s right to choose. Period.”
Ryan’s narrow win adds up to the latest evidence that Democrats may be on the verge of regaining some lost momentum in the run-up to the November midterm elections.
Ryan trailed Molinero by 14 points in early polls, that deficit was down to 3 by June and days after the Constitutional right to an abortion was overturned later that month, Ryan pulled ahead.
It was an encouraging sign to some Democratic strategists as Ryan joins other Democrats who have polled better and raised more money since the Supreme Court’s decision.
According to Scott Tranter of NewsNations Decision Desk, abortion rights will be a focus, if not the focus, in the midterms.
“Abortion is important,” he said. “And we’ve seen that in polling we see that in the specific election last night. But these fall elections generally are about macro things like inflation, the economy, those types of things.”
Just last month, traditionally-conservative Kansas voted soundly against an abortion ban in the first test for an individual state.
A NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll conducted in June showed 66% of all Americans want to keep abortion legal in most cases.
According to NewsNation’s Decision Desk, Pennsylvania elections are often determined by suburban women who tend to support abortion rights regardless of political affiliation.
This means the balance of power in the Senate could be decided by this very issue.
Republicans may still make major gains this November, but Democrats have found a bipartisan issue they can rally around.