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December 17, 2020 / Memos

Reproductive Freedom in the 2020 Election


Date: December 17, 2020 
To: Interested Parties
From: NARAL Pro-Choice America 
Re: Reproductive Freedom in the 2020 Election

 

In 2020, voters turned out in historic numbers to make their voices heard and send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, electing a ticket that will bring us one step closer to realizing a future where reproductive freedom is a reality for every body. And across the country and in key races, voters chose leaders who respect reproductive freedom and who will protect safe and accessible abortion care. 

NARAL’s Historic Electoral Program 

NARAL Pro-Choice America is proud of the work we did to elect candidates who will fight for the freedom to make decisions about pregnancy and parenting free from political interference. This election cycle, NARAL ran its largest-ever electoral program. We invested $34.7 million, mobilizing voters in key battleground states by partnering with our in-state allies; leveraging innovative message testing and research to educate voters and combat disinformation with hard-hitting accountability ads on TV, radio, and digital platforms; and launching targeted voter outreach through phone banks, peer-to-peer texting, direct mail, and social media.

Working side by side with our 2.5 million members, we fought back against anti-choice disinformation and attacks, championing candidates who will protect reproductive freedom and put evidence before political gain:

  • Over the course of 2020, NARAL and our members led more than 400 events to elect reproductive freedom champions with a total of 2,330 volunteer shifts completed. We reached voters across the country, sending over 2.3 million pieces of mail, sending over 1.1 million text messages, and calling over 1.4 million people.
  • In the final stretch of the election, NARAL Freedom Fund launched GOTV tactics in the key U.S. Senate battleground states of Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, and North Carolina.
  • NARAL expanded on its battleground state ad campaigns in the lead-up to Election Day, ramping up ad efforts in the key battleground states of Michigan and Georgia to mobilize critical voters to turn out for reproductive freedom champions.
  • In the key states of Georgia, Arizona, and Iowa alone, NARAL Freedom Fund spent $1,833,000 and reached out to over 976,000 voters through mail and texts this cycle.

Key Victories at the Ballot Box

In critical races, the work of NARAL, our members, and dedicated organizers across the country paid off. Thanks to key victories up and down the ballot, we can now begin to chart a new course and undo the damage Donald Trump and his enablers have done to our fundamental rights over the last four years. 

At the top of the ticket, President-elect Biden and Vice President elect-Harris ran on a platform that embraced reproductive freedom and won. But the Biden-Harris administration’s historic win wasn’t the only critical victory for reproductive freedom in the presidential race: Notably, every major Democratic presidential candidate in the primary supported abortion rights. It’s crystal clear that reproductive freedom is now non-negotiable in the Democratic Party’s platform.

NARAL helped elect Marie Newman in the IL-3 congressional district, unseating one of the last anti-choice Democratic Members of Congress, Dan Lipinski. Our years of investment in Georgia played a vital role in turning the state blue in a critical election year (and sending two key Senate races to runoff elections).

Anti-choice actors tried to weaponize the topic of abortion later in pregnancy, but failed as voters decisively defeated a ban on abortion later in pregnancy at the ballot in Colorado.  In a hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Michigan, the tide turned for incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) after he shared his family’s personal abortion story. Peters’ courageous sharing of his own experience drew a stark contrast with his Republican opponent John James, who tried to dodge the issue of abortion on the campaign trail but had previously compared abortion to “genocide.” 

Meanwhile, politicians up for election with a track record of extremism on reproductive freedom—including Sens. Susan Collins and Joni Ernst—saw the writing on the wall. They knew they needed to tack back to the center, or at least appear more aligned with mainstream opinion on abortion access. It appears that in several key races, they were able to convince just enough voters to squeak by and secure re-election. 

The lesson was clear: Democratic challengers who champion the freedom to decide are wise to seize the opportunity to draw a contrast and assert their commitment to reproductive freedom, especially when it becomes so clear that Republicans understood the political risk of openly touting their hostility to reproductive rights and the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Looking Ahead

Even as we celebrate these historic victories, we know our work is not over. As the January runoff elections in Georgia loom, we are again mobilizing our members to turn out and elect reproductive freedom champions Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate. With the fate of Roe v. Wade under threat, taking control of the Senate is critical to safeguarding reproductive freedom. 

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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