Arizona Mirror Commentary: Young voters won’t be gaslighted by anti-abortion politicians

Young voters won’t fall for politicians who attempt to hide their anti-abortion stances in 2024

by Isabel Hiserodt, Arizona Mirror
April 11, 2024

“Anyone else find it insane that Republicans think they can gaslight us into thinking they’re not happy about today’s decision?”

Another message from a group chat flashes across my phone screen. Dozens of college students react and respond to the message. The Arizona Supreme Court just ruled to revert to a near-total abortion ban from 1864, terrifying Gen-Z students about what their futures may hold.

As a very politically engaged group of students, many members of the group chat do find it insane.

Since the fall of Roe, abortion has become an increasingly salient issue for young voters–especially in Arizona. Tufts CIRCLE found that voters ages 18-29 were most likely to name abortion as the top issue influencing their vote in the 2022 midterms. In fact, young voters were the only age demographic to highlight abortion as their top priority.

That same election, voters under 30 turned out in record numbers; research from the McCain Institute indicates that they were Arizona’s most engaged youth electorate yet. Not only did young voters turn out, but 51% reported that they spent time researching candidates prior to casting their ballots.

This research overwhelmingly led them to vote for openly pro-choice candidates like Katie Hobbs, who received 71% of the youth vote, according to exit polls. Since Democrats tend to hold stronger pro-choice stances compared to their Republican counterparts, young voters delivered wins for Democrats across the ballot.

As the issue of abortion drives young Arizonans towards Democratic candidates in droves, it’s no surprise that many Republicans are trying to obscure their anti-abortion messaging in the wake of Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision.

The youth electorate surpassed turnout expectations when the 1864 ban was a distant threat, and they will continue to vote in record numbers now that it is a reality.

Despite celebrating the overturn of Roe v. Wade and repeatedly voting to restrict abortion access in Congress, hours after the decision, U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-Tucson) called the 1864 ban “archaic” and “a disaster for women.” Though candidates like Ciscomani have been fighting to eliminate abortion access for years, they seem to have just realized how unpopular this stance is with their own constituencies.

Yesterday, state Rep. Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) motioned to bring a bill that would repeal the ban to the House floor. Minutes after making the motion, Republicans voted to recess the floor session — Democrats accused Gress of supporting his GOP colleagues on the voice vote, Gress denied doing so — before the bill could be voted on. Later in the day, when Democrats pushed for a roll call vote to consider the bill that would have repealed the 1864 ban, Gress sided with Democrats.

Youth activists across the state refuse to allow these candidates to backpedal on the damage they caused. Organizations with large youth followings, like the Maricopa County Young Democrats, Progress Arizona, Indivisible Arizona and LUCHA have all used their platforms to call out the hypocrisy of Ciscomani, Gress and others.

In a statement on Instagram, the Young Democrats at ASU called on their fellow students to “flip the extremist Republican legislature this November.” It turns out that young people don’t like having out-of-touch politicians make life decisions for them.

While anti-abortion lawmakers return our state to a time when the Confederacy had not yet surrendered to the Union, Arizona had not yet received statehood and women had not yet been granted suffrage, young voters are watching. The youth electorate surpassed turnout expectations when the 1864 ban was a distant threat, and they will continue to vote in record numbers now that it is a reality.

Young Arizonans are making it clear that they won’t go back–not to pre-Roe policies or to the lawmakers that passed them.

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.