MSNBC Warns Republicans that Abortion Is a Losing Issue

May 20th, 2019 6:23 PM

With state legislatures across the country passing pro-life legislation, Politico's Anna Palmer and The Washington Post's Philip Rucker joined host Hallie Jackson on Monday's MSNBC Live to argue that Republicans will not benefit from this increased focus on abortion.

After finishing an interview with Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Jackson asked Palmer and Rucker to comment on the GOP's message for 2020, citing a New York Times article entitled "Abortion Fight or Strong Economy? For G.O.P., Cultural Issues Undercut 2020 Message."



Palmer agreed with the idea that "this issue" hurts Republicans because they "have a deficit when it comes to women and it comes to women in the suburbs" and could hurt the party's effor to recruit female candidates. Palmer just assumed the generally accepted narrative is that Republicans struggle with the female vote because of abortion, despite a 2018 Gallup poll on the issue saying that 47 percent of women consider themselves to be pro-life, compared to 48 percent who say pro-choice.

Rucker then argued that abortion is a losing issue for Republicans because top Republicans came out and said they thought Alabama went too far by not allowing for exceptions in the case of rape and incest. In talking about divisions among Republicans, Rucker ignored divisions among Democrats on the issue.

The Democratic governor of Louisiana has said he would sign that state's pro-life bill that would make aboriton illegal after six weeks and that was introduced by a Democratic state senator. On the other side of the issue, 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said in Sunday's Fox News town hall that their should be no limits on abortion rights. While Buttigieg came out in support of third trimester abortions, a 2018 Gallup poll showed that only 18 percent of his fellow Democrats would go that far.

Election cycle after election cycle, the media warn conservatives that abortion is a losing issue for them, despite the fact that there is no data to support such a claim.

Here is a transcript for the May 20 show:

MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson


10:32 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: Anna and Phil, as you listen to that conversation, can't help but think of that "New York Times" piece that came out where Kevin McCarthy, it reports, and Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager talked about how if the election was about policy, Republicans would win and if it was about personalities, they might lose, which people in the room took as a reference to the president’s behavior. 

ANNA PALMER: Yeah, I think the big issue for Republicans on this issue in particular is, this is not what they want to be talking about. Republicans have a deficit when it comes to women and it comes to women in the suburbs. They have been trying very hard to recruit them as candidates. Trying very hard to get them to be donors more. I think this is one of the biggest issues that Republicans want to be focused on the economy. They want to be focused on other things. 


PHILIP RUCKER: Yeah, and one of the problems for Republicans here is they are not all in agreement about some of these laws. That Alabama law was  so extreme and Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy made clear that they disagree…


RUCKER: They think there should be exceptions for rape and incest in the life of the mother when it comes to abortion.