Abortion-Themed Political Ads Spiked After Roe V. Wade Decision Leaked, Study Finds

top line

References to abortion in television political advertising increased after Politico published a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion last week that would overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a report released Thursday by the Wesleyan Media Project, as the potential rollback of abortion access nationwide sends an already-charged issue to the political forefront.

key facts

The proportion of pro-Democratic House ads that mentioned abortion increased from 6.2% before May 3, when Politico published the draft, to 22% on and after that date, while the proportion of pro-Republican House ads that referred to abortion increased from 13.5%. to 14.5% over the same period, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political ads and is run by government and political science professors at Wesleyan University and other schools.

The effect was also dramatic in Democratic Senate races, where the proportion of ads mentioning abortion increased more than tenfold, from 0.6% to 6.1%, but the proportion of ads in the Republican Senate increased dropped slightly from 12.2% to 11.8%, according to the report.

The percentage of ads by Republican governors mentioning abortion more than doubled, from 4.4% to 10% after the draft ruling was leaked, and the percentage of ads by Democratic governors increased modestly from 10.3% to 12.8%, the study found.

The Wesleyan Media Project analyzed data collected by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group related to ads from January 6, 2021 to May 8, 2022.


Opinions on abortion rights are divided along partisan lines: 80% of Democrats think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 38% of Republicans, according to a published poll on May 6 by the Pew Research Center. Overall, 61% of adults think abortion should be mostly legal.

key background

The draft opinion published by Politico, which Chief Justice John Roberts has said is authentic but not final, was linked to a case involving a Mississippi abortion law that the high court is expected to rule on. pronounce in July. The possible reversal of the Roe v. Wade’s 1973, which held that a woman’s right to have an abortion is constitutionally protected, has sparked a renewed debate on abortion, providing publicity material for candidates on both sides of the aisle. In recent ads, some Democrats claim that Republicans are “punishing women,” while some Republicans accuse their opponents of “aiding and abetting murder.” Although some Republican federal lawmakers are reportedly working with anti-abortion activists to push for a national abortion ban if Republicans regain control of Congress after the November midterm elections, other abortion opponents have argued that it would be better to seek bans instead. Statewide. Meanwhile, Democrats have pushed to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, though they have struggled to pass a nationwide abortion rights bill in the Senate. If the situation is resolved without national protections for abortion rights or a national abortion ban, the legality of the procedure could rest primarily with state authorities, possibly making abortion a more decisive issue in state elections.

What to watch

If the Supreme Court decides to reverse Roe v. Wade, abortion would immediately become almost completely illegal in 13 states that have passed anti-abortion “trigger laws.” On the other hand, 16 states have passed laws protecting the right to abortion even in the absence of Roe v. Wade, including four states that protect abortion rights during pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute for Abortion Rights.

amazing fact

Debates over abortion may have turned to violence in Madison, Wisconsin, where an abortion-rights group has claimed responsibility for an arson attack on an anti-abortion nonprofit last weekend.

Other readings

“Arkansas governor who signed statewide abortion ban says he is against a national ban” (Forbes)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.