Ahead of the anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last June, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has claimed that he and others sounded the alarm that abortion would be a high priority among voters ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. In reality, Scarborough and other commentators repeatedly discounted the energizing power of reproductive rights in bringing voters out to the polls in November.
During a June 23 discussion of abortion on Morning Joe, Scarborough commented that, before the 2022 midterms, “abortion was only being cited by 5% of the electorate as being important to them. We didn't believe it at the time, and everybody around this table, well, we were right."
Though Scarborough doesn’t specify which poll he is referring to, a New York Times and Siena College poll from July 2022 found that 5% of registered voters cited abortion as the single “most important problem facing the country.” However, 61% of voters in the poll found abortion to be “extremely important” to their upcoming midterms vote.
The 2022 midterm elections showed an overwhelming turnout following Roe’s reversal, with exit polls and several state ballot measures underscoring voters’ commitment to protecting abortion rights. Across both red and blue states, voters helped enshrine abortion protections and anti-abortion legislation. Exit polls from last year also highlighted abortion as a major motivating factor for voters, second only to concerns over inflation.
Even though Scarborough now claims to have disbelieved reports that underestimated the importance of abortion to the American electorate, hosts on Morning Joe repeatedly downplayed reproductive rights in the lead up to the November elections.
In November, Scarborough commented that though abortion may influence some voters, he predicted that the top issue for voters is “definitely going to be crime in places.” And in October Scarborough stated, "The further we get away from Dobbs, as you look at the issues, it seems that abortion just isn't registering for a lot of voters — not even in the top three.
Additionally, in October, Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist suggested that abortion is “not even close” to a top concern for voters, asserting that the economy would lead “by wide, wide margins over all of those issues, and now it's crime and the border and immigration.”