Julie Carr Smyth
COLUMBUS: The political arm of Planned Parenthood is targeting Ohio as part of its largest education and get-out-the-vote effort ever, a campaign aimed at turning out young, undecided voters it thinks can swing the election for Democrats.
Planned Parenthood Votes said its Ohio campaign’s public launch Wednesday is part of an unprecedented, $30 million national effort to mobilize voters in key swing states. The effort also marks the group’s largest-ever field effort in the battleground state.
The campaign comes as Planned Parenthood’s favored candidates have seen lagging favorability in the state.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is running neck-and-neck with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the state, according to polls, and has recently directed some resources elsewhere. Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor, is lagging incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
Deirdre Schifeling, executive director for Planned Parenthood Votes, said the field campaign is data-driven.
“We’ve decided to invest heavily in Ohio not only because it’s a battleground state, but also because Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights are deciding issues in the state,” she said.
Schifeling said the group’s internal analysis shows uncommitted Ohio voters can be moved by issues surrounding Planned Parenthood — the women’s health care and abortion provider — abortion rights and Republican-led efforts to defund the organization.
From field offices in the Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati areas, volunteer canvassers will knock on 450,000 doors and make more than 17,000 phone calls.
Abortion opponents are also revving up support for their cause in the state as Election Day approaches.
A 40-day, 125-city national bus tour that kicked off Tuesday will run through the eve of the Nov. 8 election. It will pass through Ohio Oct. 6-8 with stops in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Canton, Cleveland and Toledo.
The coalition of groups opposing abortion that are behind the effort is promoting support for candidates who favor legal limits on abortion. Its videos describe at least some limits on the procedure as a national consensus position and label “pro-abortion politicians” as in the pockets of the abortion lobby.
Gallup polling has shown abortion positions among U.S. adults have held fairly steady nationally. In 2016, about 50 percent said they want abortion to be legal with some restrictions. About equal percentages identify as “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”