White Women Were Up In Arms When Roe v. Wade Was Overturned. Why Did They Still Vote Red?

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Gov. Brian Kemp, delivers his acceptance speech at his election night party after defeating Stacey Abrams Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Atlanta.
Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Gov. Brian Kemp, delivers his acceptance speech at his election night party after defeating Stacey Abrams Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Atlanta.

The battle for control of Congress remains too close to call, but the exit polls from the 2022 midterms revealed something that Black folks have always known: white people continue to be the biggest threat to American democracy. They also work to uphold systems that frequently work against them.

Though the reversal of Roe v. Wade earlier this year saw an outpouring from women—particularly white women—calling for the government to stop interfering with the right to choose, most of them wound up voting for politicians who plan on severely limiting or banning reproductive rights altogether.

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The data shows that 73 percent of voters identified as white, with the majority voting Republican (58 percent). Those who identified as Black made up 11 percent of voters with the majority voting Democrat (86 percent). White women accounted for 37 percent of voters—and over half of them voted red (53 percent). This means Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp—who signed the infamous 2019 “heartbeat bill”—will remain in office for a second term.

The law, which bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, took effect in June after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. This also means that Ron DeSantis, who will also remain in office as Florida governor for a second term, will most likely enact stricter abortion laws. In April, he signed into law a 15-week abortion ban that reduces the window to legally terminate a pregnancy by more than two months.

Though he was mostly quiet about his plans for abortion as Election Day approached, experts believe that he, like Kemp, will also enact a “heartbeat bill.” Sixteen states with a total population of 106 million people will be led by Republican governors. Though fourteen states aren’t electing a governor this year, 31.1 million people are still led by Republicans in those states.

This simply equates to the renewed attack on reproductive rights—an attack that will continue to hit Black women and women of color the most. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that white suburban women have moved their support from Democrats to Republicans due to concerns surrounding inflation as well as the economy—even though the Republican party has a history of helping neither.

Let’s not forget that white women also came out in droves to support Trump. About 52 percent of them voted for him in the 2016 presidential election, as the Washington Post noted:

“In the past 18 presidential elections, they have repeatedly voted for the Republican candidate, breaking only for Lyndon B. Johnson and for Bill Clinton’s second term. As political scientist Jane Junn wrote in 2016, “The elephant in the room is white and female, and she has been standing there since 1952.”

Though the evisceration of abortion rights may have prompted some of them to support the Democratic party, the majority of white women remain invested in upholding outdated, oppressive Republican systems. However, those same women will always be seen as nothing more than collateral damage.

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