Abortion Mindsets and Messaging Based on the Ohio Issue 1 Win

In 2022, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision rocked the country, leaving Americans’ access to abortion more vulnerable than ever. However, it also ushered in an electrifying surge of motivation to fight for reproductive rights. Then in 2023, ballot initiative cropped up in a conversative-leaning state – the Ohio Issue 1, which would codify abortion protections into the state constitution. Global Strategy Group was hired to lead the research for coalition of organizations. 

Our key findings can and will help inform our strategy for the years to come. Insights including: 

  • Abortion is still a winning issue, but success is not guaranteed. Complacency is our biggest threat. Americans are generally with us on abortion legality, but their views are nuanced, and the other side is getting smarter at muddying the waters. Importantly: those who support abortion rights won’t automatically support Democrats. Voters do not always intuitively connect their personal abortion position to voting for Democrats and against Republicans. 
  • There are signs conservatives are shifting their strategy, making for a more formidable opponent in 2024. In Ohio and elsewhere across the country, we saw Republican candidates and anti-choice forces moderate their tone in an effort to appeal to more middle-of-the-road voters. Similarly, these forces have glommed on to language: picking apart anything that may be considered vague and confusing. This means it’s even more critical to define the other side early and do research to ensure language is as clear and compelling as possible. 
  • When it comes to ballot amendments, it’s critical that our side outlines both the values of Yes and the consequences of failure. Particularly on the Yes side, it’s essential that we quickly and clearly define what Yes means. The other side of the coin is that it’s also necessary to vividly paint a picture of what the status quo will be in the event of failure. We should help voters visualize No by highlighting the true stories of those who have faced the impact of abortion bans. 

On Election Day, it was clear our research-backed messaging worked. Ohioans sent an unmistakable message: abortion should be legal, and they will show up to protect it. As the most conservative state to win a proactive pro-abortion amendment yet, Ohio’s victory clearly demonstrates our collective power to turn out and persuade voters on this issue.