Abortion rights, economic stresses: These issues are top of mind for many Arizona women as they vote

Arizona National Organization for Women

By Alison Steinbac || The Arizona Republic

Abortion rights and economic challenges are top of mind for Arizona women voters, and how they view abortion could help determine who wins the U.S. Senate race.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortions in June and set about months of uncertainty over Arizona’s changing laws, the issue of abortion rights has risen to the fore in the state’s midterm elections. It’s generally expected to give a boost to Democrats and may entice some Republicans and independents who want abortion to be legal to vote Democratic.

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Yet economic challenges are front and center now too, as voters see rising costs for everything from gas and groceries to housing and health care, with metro Phoenix’s inflation having led the nation.

Economic discontent around inflation and policies of President Joe Biden is a rallying point for Republican candidates, including Senate hopeful Blake Masters, who has cast incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., as responsible for overspending and people’s trouble paying the bills.

On the issue of abortion, Kelly has maintained a strong abortion rights position while Masters has advocated for a range of federal and state restrictions, though recently trying to soften his tone. Whoever wins could end up being a decisive vote on federal abortion restrictions or protections in Congress.

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Arizona voters’ concerns: Inflation, abortion, threats to democracy

Arizona women picked inflation and abortion as basically tied for their top issue in this election — about a quarter of respondents selected each — according to a recent poll from Suffolk University/Arizona Republic and azcentral.com.

Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said she believes abortion will be a driving force in the election. The issue creates much more intensity and is easier to understand than the economy, she said.

“Ask somebody on the street what should we doing about inflation and they don’t know, it’s a tough one, it’s a really complicated issue. Ask somebody on the street are you for or against legal abortions — they’ll know, they’ll give you an answer, and it’s a real answer,” Kamarck said. “I think it’s (abortion) being undervalued in terms of its power in these midterm elections. I think it’s going to be a big deal.”

Some Republican and independent women are supporting Kelly, for example, in large part because of abortion rights.

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