The power — and limit — of abortion for Democrats in 2024: From the Politics Desk

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Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, senior politics editor Mark Murray breaks down new polling that shows the limits of abortion as a political issue for Democrats. Plus, national political reporter Bridget Bowman reports on how pro-Israel groups are wading into GOP primaries. And the prosecution rests in Donald Trump's trial.

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New polls show abortion’s power — and limits — as a 2024 issue

By Mark Murray

The issue of abortion remains a powerful force for Democrats in the election, with 60% of voters disapproving of overturning Roe v. Wade and supporting abortion rights in most cases.

But the issue also has limits — at least in the context of the showdown between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

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That’s the takeaway from a pair of recent CBS News/YouGov polls of Arizona and Florida, where abortion has been a major dynamic since Roe v. Wade’s downfall. In Florida, a six-week abortion ban has gone into effect, while the state also has a measure on the ballot in November to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. And in Arizona, the governor signed legislation repealing the state’s 1864 abortion ban. The state is also expected to have an abortion rights amendment on the ballot.

The positive news for Democrats: Nearly two-thirds of voters in both states believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and a slim majority say abortion will be a major factor in their votes.

In addition, 6 in 10 voters would support a state amendment establishing a constitutional right to abortion in each state.

That’s the clear power of abortion. But other findings in the polls suggest the limits of that power.

While slight majorities in both states say abortion will be a major factor in their votes, that’s down considerably from the 8 in 10 voters who say that about the economy and inflation, as well as the 7 in 10 who say it about the state of democracy.

And this might be the most significant set of abortion numbers in the poll: Half of voters say Trump deserves neither credit nor blame for overturning Roe v. Wade.

That compares to about 10% to 15% of voters who give Trump credit and roughly 35% to 40% who blame him in those states.

So while Democrats and the Biden campaign have attacked Trump for being personally responsible for the Supreme Court overturning Roe — with his three appointments to the court — a sizable chunk of voters in Arizona and Florida don’t buy that argument.

At least not yet.

Pro-Israel groups ramp up spending against Republicans

By Bridget Bowman

Divisions over Israel have often drawn outside groups supportive of the country into contentious Democratic primaries. But this year, as Israel’s war with Hamas rages on, those groups are increasingly taking aim at Republicans.

United Democracy Project, a super PAC tied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, did not engage in any GOP primaries in the last election cycle. This time around, it has targeted three Republicans running for Congress.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has also intervened in two GOP primaries so far, with potentially more to come. The coalition has played in Republican contests in the past but is engaging in more races this year.

Some Republicans are embracing a more isolationist foreign policy, echoing former President Donald Trump’s “America first” mantra and calling for a focus on issues at home rather than abroad. And others have opposed sending additional aid to Israel.

Kentucky’s 4th District: UDP is airing ads against Rep. Thomas Massie, who faces two primary challengers Tuesday. But the group said it is more focused on denting Massie if he chooses to seek higher office — like Mitch McConnell’s Senate seat — in the future rather than defeating him in the primary in his conservative district.

Texas’ 23rd District: UDP and RJC are also targeting gun rights activist Brandon Herrera, who is challenging Rep. Tony Gonzales in next week’s GOP runoff. The groups have highlighted Herrera’s past comments making light of veteran suicides and Nazi Germany.

Virginia’s 5th District: RJC endorsed state Sen. John McGuire, who is challenging House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, but it has not yet announced any spending ahead of the June 18 primary election.

Indiana’s 8th District: The two groups spent a combined $3 million against former Rep. John Hostettler, who lost his GOP primary race this month. Hostettler had opposed a resolution supporting Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians in October 2000.

Read more →

Prosecutors rest their case against Donald Trump in dramatic day of testimony

By Adam Reiss, Jillian Frankel and Dareh Gregorian

Prosecutors rested their case against Trump on Monday after another dramatic day of testimony from his former lawyer Michael Cohen, while the judge presiding over the trial ripped into one of the former president’s witnesses for disrespectful behavior.

State Judge Juan Merchan briefly booted the public from the New York City courtroom after he scolded defense attorney Robert Costello outside the presence of the jury. Costello had visibly and audibly reacted to the prosecution’s objections and Merchan’s rulings.

Costello is a veteran New York criminal defense attorney who represented Rudy Giuliani and whom Cohen had discussed the possibility of hiring at one point. Cohen never retained him, and the pair have since trashed each other publicly.

Costello was the second defense witness called by Trump, following testimony from a paralegal in defense attorney Todd Blanche’s office about Cohen’s phone records. Despite Trump’s pretrial claim he would “absolutely” testify in the case, it seems unlikely he will take the stand.

Cohen finished his testimony in dramatic fashion, as well — he admitted he conned Trump and his company out of money while also maintaining Trump signed off on the hush money payment at the heart of trial.

At the start of court Monday, Merchan announced that closing arguments, which he had tentatively scheduled to begin Tuesday, would be pushed back a week because of the holiday weekend. They’re now tentatively scheduled for May 28.

Read more from the Trump trial →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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