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Suburban women are becoming a coveted group this election cycle in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson ruling.
Abortion grew as one of the top issues among voters with a new TBEN News poll showing 20% of women say it’s the top issue that will motivate them to vote this election cycle. Democrats hope motivation will push their voters to the polls in an interim year as they are on the defensive.
In states like North Carolina, where Democrat Cheri Beasley will face Republican Rep. Ted Budd in the state’s open Senate seat, analysts say women will be the primary voice. According to the latest voter registration numbers, the state of Tar Heel has registered about 550,000 more female voters than males.
“They are the focus and main hope for Democrats in this election, especially because of the withdrawal of Roe v. Wade by the Dobbs decision,” said Mac McCorkle, a public policy professor at Duke University. “Usually the problem for the party in power — and that’s probably still a problem for the Democrats — is that their side isn’t as motivated. The other side is angry because they lost the last election. They want the incumbent. So I think the Republican enthusiasm, especially from Republican women, was probably already there.”
Jennifer Rubin, the vice president of the League of Women Voters North Carolina, said she believes the issue of abortion has motivated all women to go to the polls and vote.
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“North Carolina is a majority state for women,” she said. “We have more women in North Carolina than men. So I think some of these issues that are important to women can definitely have an impact because women are motivated to vote.”
In addition to abortion, women in North Carolina who spoke to TBEN News said the cost of living is a serious issue this cycle. North Carolina’s housing market has skyrocketed in the past year, with all 10 of the state’s largest cities seeing rent increases, according to data from Apartment List. In Wilmington, the city has seen a rent increase of more than 17% since last year. The state in general has seen an increase of just over 14%.
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Many people in the state said those who moved from the north during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the total cost of living, have made their cities almost unaffordable.
“I just had to move and the rent was insane. Absolutely insane,” said Kenzie Oldham, an independent voter in Wilmington. When asked what she would like to see from those who run, she said she would like them to reimburse the costs. “I wish they would work on making things cheaper. Or at least — if they don’t make things cheaper — then raise wages to match inflation.”
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A Republican voter said the cost of groceries has become unsustainable. Chelsea Cooley, a mother of six, said her family spent nearly three weeks on $500 worth of groceries. Now, she said that’s her weekly bill.
“Gallons of milk are four times what it used to be,” said Cooley, who also volunteered to join the Republican state party. “I think we’re all at the point where we can’t afford to continue living the way we live now.”
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Cooley also said parental rights were a top priority for her this cycle after she became more involved in her children’s education during the height of the pandemic.
“If you start telling a parent, whether they’re Democrat, Republican, or independent, that their say in how they raise their children no longer carries the superior weight, you have a problem,” she said.
The race in the North Carolina Senate is important for Republicans trying to retain the seat as part of their larger effort to regain the majority. Budd welcomes former President Trump to a rally on Friday, which analysts are likely to mobilize on all sides.
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“It will help motivate the Trump base in the Republican Party. It will help motivate the Democratic base against Trump,” McCorkle said. “The independents are the unfathomable.”
North Carolina voters who already know their Senate race picks can start casting their votes now. Early voting began on September 9 for postal voting.