Hillary Clinton has been boasting in recent days that she had 3 million more votes than did Donald Trump during the 2016 election, even though in the American republic a president is elected by Electoral College delegates selected by each state, not by a national popular vote.
The margin actually was about 2.9 million, with 65.8 million votes for Clinton nationwide and 62.9 million for Trump.
But what if Clinton’s total had been only 50 million, and Trump’s remained unchanged? The 2016 election outcome would not have changed, but what would it mean for Democrats going forward?
That would have been the result had pro-life Democrats – now being told by DNC Chairman Tom Perez that support for abortion “is not negotiable” – simply stayed home over the issue.
“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state,” Perez said.
Had the pro-life Democrats voted Republican, which has a pro-life party platform, the change would have been massive, with an estimated 78.7 million votes for Trump and only 50 million for Clinton.
Pew Research found earlier this year that 24 percent of Democrats believe abortion should be illegal in most cases. Seventy-six percent think it should be legal in most cases.
But after the party’s calamitous results in 2016 down the ticket – in the presidential race, Congress, governerships and state houses – some are concerned this Perez’s hardline stance is not the way to rally the party base.
Bloomberg View commentary writer Ramesh Ponnuru explained that the far-left Sen. Bernie Sanders, who opposed Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016, actually is the “moderate” by comparison.
He attended a rally with Heath Mello, a candidate for mayor of Omaha, who has said he would not restrict abortion as mayor but opposed the procedure after 20 weeks as a state lawmaker and is “personally opposed” on religious grounds.
That’s not acceptable, under the new Democratic dogma, pronounced by National Abortion Rights Action League spokeswoman Ilyse Hogue.
A Democrat simply should not, she said, support “candidates who substitute their own judgment and ideology for that of their female constitutions.”
Perez was with Sanders at the Mello rally, but he immediately backpedaled his apparent tolerance of Mello’s abortion stance.
“I fundamentally disagree with Heath Mello’s personal beliefs about women’s reproductive health. It is a promising step that Mello now shares the Democratic Party’s position on women’s fundamental rights. Every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same because every woman should be able to make her own health choices. Period,” he stated.
In his commentary, Ponnuru wrote: “Every Democrat? That’s bad news for Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, a Democrat at the top of Republican target lists for next year who has generally opposed abortion. It would have been bad news for a lot of other Democrats over the years, too. Such leading Democrats as Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy and Dick Gephardt were at one point anti-abortion. Many others, such as Bill Clinton, broke with the pro-choice lobby on taxpayer funding of abortion.”
He pointed out that such a hard line seems “to be working out better for the Republicans than for the Democrats.”
“Exit polls have shown that in most presidential elections, voters for whom abortion is a top concern have favored the Republicans. And socially conservative constituencies seem to have noticed that they aren’t welcome in the Democratic Party,” Ponnuru said.
“White evangelical voters overwhelmingly rejected a socially liberal Democratic Party in the 2012 election. They rejected a more militantly socially liberal Democratic Party even more overwhelmingly in 2016. If Hillary Clinton had kept Obama’s share of those voters in Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin, she would be president today,” he said.
The logic of seeking a bigger tent to encompass more voters hasn’t, however, affected Perez and other party leaders, including Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.
The Washington Examiner said Pelosi, now House minority leader after the GOP took over the House, called it a “fading issue,” which meant that all disagreement between Democrats on abortion is gone.
The report said Pelosi “was arguing that there’s no need to kick out pro-life – people like members of her own family – because abortion is rapidly becoming the common unifying issue of the Democratic Party.”
“The last pro-life holdouts are either disappearing, experiencing politically convenient conversions on the issue in order to advance within the party, or else defecting to the GOP.”
But Pelosi admitted social issues were a significant factor in 2016.
“That’s why – you know what? That’s why Donald Trump is president of the United States. Evangelicals and the Catholics. You know what? Anti-marriage equality, anti-choice. That’s how he got to be president,” Pelosi said.
Meanwhile, Clinton gave her whole-hearted endorsement to support to abortion at a recent anniversary of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion industry player.
“Let’s respect people’s convictions, but never back down from our commitment to defend the ability of every woman to make these deeply personal decisions for herself,” Clinton said.
“Protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care: it is a health issue, of course, it is a core economic issue,” Clinton said. “Women in every corner of our country understand that intimately. And anyone who wants to lead should also understand that fundamentally, this is an issue of morality.”
She called the idea of supporting and promoting abortion “higher ground.”