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Will Trump's abortion announcement help or hurt him in the election?


Former President Donald Trump has taken a position on abortion - well, sort of.


DONALD TRUMP: You must follow your heart on this issue, but remember, you must also win elections to restore our culture and, in fact, to save our country.


In other words, now that Trump has emerged from the Republican presidential primary, he's basically saying, leave it up to the states. That video, posted on his social media platform yesterday, is the clearest attempt yet to address an issue that has cost Republicans votes since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022.

FADEL: NPR's senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro joins us now. Hi, Domenico.


FADEL: Good morning. So will Trump's abortion announcement help him, hurt him?

MONTANARO: He's in a tough spot on this issue because it's his justices that made it possible for Roe to be overturned. He knows that, and in the video you played, he even thanked them. Trump knows this issue has hurt Republicans in election after election. Here's Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducts polling for NPR.

LEE MIRINGOFF: Trump is very much aware of the mobilizing effect of the Supreme Court actions in favor of the Democrats, and I think he's trying to find some kind of position that is more tolerable and is less of a negative for his campaign.

FADEL: So a political calculation here.

MONTANARO: Yeah - I mean, pretty much. You know, whether it works, though, is another question. I mean, his position still leaves Republicans without a firm stance on what they should believe when it comes to abortion rights. That's something that they've really struggled with as states have come up with their own laws, in many cases, in Republican states, very restrictive laws that have all but cut off access to abortion for millions of women, particularly in the south.

FADEL: So Trump is also saying Republicans can now move on and focus on other issues like immigration and inflation. I mean, will Republicans just move on because Trump says so?

MONTANARO: Well, Trump is essentially abandoning the issue himself, saying that there's nothing to see here. But it's pretty unlikely that the country simply moves on. You know, Biden - his campaign is going to do everything it can to remind voters that it was Trump's justices who made the current chaotic state on abortion rights possible, you know, and it came out with a new ad just yesterday highlighting a Texas woman who says she almost died after a pregnancy loss and was denied an abortion to prevent infection. No doubt about it, you know, this is a major issue, a major motivator for millions of voters. Again, here's Marist's Lee Miringoff.

MIRINGOFF: There's little doubt that when you look at suburban women, when you look at women with a college education, it's having an impact beyond all other things in this race.

MONTANARO: So you hear there, beyond all other things in this race. So there's no waving this away. Remember, this is the first presidential election since the Supreme Court's Dobbs ruling that got rid of Roe.

FADEL: Right.

MONTANARO: And it's one reason that we're seeing shifts in our latest poll, not just with college-educated white women, but with white men, as well.

FADEL: So what are the shifts?

MONTANARO: Well, Biden is struggling with younger voters and Latino voters, groups that he did well with in 2020, but he's being buoyed by college-educated white voters. They're essentially keeping him in this election right now, and that's a big change from years past. The biggest shift was with college-educated white men. Trump won them by three points in 2020, but our latest survey showed that Biden was ahead with them by more than 20 points.

Now, is that abortion rights? Is that Trump's language? Is that January 6? Maybe it's all of the above, but the fact is, there used to be a place in the Republican Party for someone who was fiscally conservative, socially liberal, wanted a strong hand when it came to foreign policy and American leadership, but that's just not the case anymore. And this re-sorting along educational lines in particular has become more and more cohesive.

FADEL: NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Thank you, Domenico.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.