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Following last week’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, its landmark decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion, two veteran Wisconsin political operatives believe abortion access will be a galvanizing issue for voters come November.

Following last week’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, its landmark decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion, two veteran Wisconsin political operatives believe abortion access will be a galvanizing issue for voters come November.

Those operatives, Tanya Bjork and Keith Gilkes, who work with Democrats and Republicans respectively, said as much at a WisPolitics.com event Thursday.

Bjork said if the decision holds, she believes it will “further energize the Democratic base.”

And, she said, it’s not just Democrats who will be motivated by the issue. Bjork pointed out that a majority of Wisconsin voters support access to abortion in all or most cases.

Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School poll, who also spoke at the event, backed up Bjork’s claim. He said the last time he polled on abortion, 61% of respondents in the state believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

“That is a huge percentage of the electorate … on any issue,” Bjork said. “There are a lot more than the Democratic base that care about this issue.”

Gilkes, in some ways, agreed with Bjork. He said he also believes abortion access is going to be an issue for voters in the fall, but said it might not skew as heavily to Democrats as some people may think.

[Wisconsin Democrats mobilize around abortion access]

“It's not just a one-sided motivating base issue,” Gilkes said of abortion. “It can be motivating for both sides.”

But, he said, GOP candidates need to approach the issue with caution, because “a lot of Republican candidates... have lost elections because they can't carry on a conversation or debate about the issue from their perspective.”

The issue of abortion access could be particularly salient in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race. Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of Roe. To date, all four of the Democratic candidates polling with any support — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and Bucks executive Alex Lasry — have all come out in favor of codifying Roe in recent days.

Public support for abortion access could be especially challenging for Johnson. Franklin said the senator is “in a bad place right now” from a reelection perspective, with a favorability rating of just 36% in Marquette’s most recent poll.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Johnson said it would not "be that big a change” in Wisconsin, despite the state having an 1849 law banning most abortions

“It might be a little messy for some people, but abortion is not going away,” he said, adding that Wisconsinites seeking an abortion could travel to Illinois.

Johnson on Wednesday also voted against legislation that would have written the right to an abortion into federal law.

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