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Messaging Resources

Maryland Messaging

Abortion Messaging

While Maryland is a leading state in the fight for reproductive justice, the extremism of the anti-abortion movement is relentless. We must continue to fight back to protect and expand abortion nationally. 

There has been a lot of research into what messages around reproductive justice resonate with people.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when talking about abortion care with organizational members, friends and family, the public, on social media, etc: 

  • People resonate with values-driven messaging. Connect with audiences by talking about freedom, autonomy, and health. 
  • Do not repeat opposition messaging. We should not give any more air time to this rhetoric, and it can reinforce their framework. 
  • Focus on the impact on people’s lives, don’t get into the policy weeds. Keep your messages simple and easy to understand. Emphasize the safety and health of people, especially young people, as primary concerns. These values resonate strongly with people. Freedom and autonomy messages test highest with men and swing voters, fundamental right messaging tests best with pro-choice voters.
  • We must share our vision and values strongly and proactively. Effective messaging includes: 

➤ Core messaging – attacking abortion care is attacking our communities. Everyone deserves the right to make their own decisions about their life, family, and safety. Barriers and political interference are unacceptable. We must fight back. 

➤ Vision – freedom, justice, health 

➤ Problem – abortion bans, other restrictive policies  

➤ Solution – call for a specific solution


Maryland Ballot Initiative

In March 2023, the Maryland General Assembly passed the “Right to Reproductive Freedom Act” in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. This legislation proposed adding a ‘Declaration of Rights’ to Article 48 of the Maryland constitution, enshrining the right to reproductive freedom in the state of Maryland. Before this right can be added to the state constitution, it must be ratified by Maryland voters, which is a requirement for all constitutional amendments. The measure will appear on the ballot in November 2024. 

Maryland currently has strong reproductive freedom laws. However, without an established right in the state constitution, the laws are vulnerable to future changes by legislators or state courts that could change current legal precedent, similar to what happened with the Dobbs decision. 

A constitutional amendment is the strongest possible protection of the right to reproductive freedom and would be very difficult to repeal.

 
Resources

Right to Reproductive Justice Half-Pager

Right to Reproductive Justice One-Pager

Special interest groups are working to place two questions on the ballot in November 2024 that would harm Baltimore City.

• The first is a property tax measure funded by developers named “Renew Baltimore,” would cut property tax revenue, slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Baltimore City budget, leaving the city unable to meet residents’ basic needs.

• The second would limit the political power of Baltimore City residents by shrinking the Baltimore City Council from 14 to 8 members.

Full One Pager

General Messaging

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Avoid repeating opposition claims and overemphasizing medical or policy details
  • Focus on outcomes/impact on individuals and communities
  • Lean into values (freedom, rights, autonomy/agency)
  • Name victories to fight cynicism remind voters what we can accomplish – abortion ballot initiatives, defeating anti-choice candidates, etc. 
  • Rather than talking about the “Dobbs Decision,” which is not a well known phrase, use “overturning Roe v. Wade,” “took away the right to an abortion,” or “took away our freedom to decide if and when to start or grow our family.”

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Try to frame climate impacts in terms of lived experiences and tangible benefits, not abstract concepts. Whenever possible, emphasize how climate solutions will improve people’s lives (lower costs, better health, more jobs).
  • Emphasize as much as you can the urgent need for climate action and the power of collective agency to drive change.
  • Accountability matters. That’s why we should name specific culprits responsible for the climate crisis (fossil fuel CEOs, corporations, politicians they influence).
  • A positive vision matters. It’s important to promote a clear, compelling vision of a clean energy future that benefits all communities and supports economic and environmental justice.
  • Along those lines, highlight solutions and agency, especially those led by communities of color, not just problems. Link climate action to past collective victories and the power of people coming together.

 

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Focus on outcomes/impact on individuals and communities
  • Lean into values (freedom, rights, autonomy/agency)
  • Link back to overturning Roe v. Wade and attacks on our freedoms
  • Avoid repeating opposition claims
  • Contraception is widely popular; however, more Americans believe it should be legal when framed as “birth control” – using “birth control” rather than “contraception” increases support across Democrats, Republicans, and Independents

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

When discussing the President’s economic record, we would make the following recommendations for principles to help guide your conversations: 

  • Focus on Outcomes: Whenever possible, emphasize tangible benefits for working families and the middle class rather than process-oriented details. People want and need to know how their lives are improving as a result of a candidate’s economic policies.
  • Highlight Contrasts: Take the opportunity to contrast a candidate’s policies from those of their opponent, particularly focusing on economic impacts and values.
  • A Forward-Looking Vision: While celebrating a candidate’s past achievements, make sure to stress future commitments and ongoing efforts to improve the economy for everyone.
  • Freedom and Opportunity: Make sure to frame economic policies within the context of expanding freedoms and opportunities for all Americans/Marylanders.

Our Shared Values and Unity: Finally, be sure to address how the candidate’s policies benefit Marylanders across different races, backgrounds, and regions, underscoring our common values.

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Messaging highlighting policies targeting homelessness performs well with moderates, middle income voters, urban voters, and Black voters.
  • Messaging highlighting policies targeting lowering housing costs performs well with moderates, conservatives, higher income voters, and men.
  • Most housing messaging performs well with younger voters, rural voters, and Latino voters.

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Make sure you lead with shared values of freedom and opportunity that unite us across race and background. Highlight the courage of those who move to build a better life, not just the challenges they face.
  • Whenever possible, lay out an affirmative vision for a fair and orderly immigration process that respects all families and allows everyone to contribute fully. Avoid getting trapped in just reacting defensively.
  • Make sure that you emphasize workable solutions that are fair, practical and uphold our values. Appeal to the public’s desire for an immigration system that is orderly and functions properly, while rejecting policies that only focus on enforcement or demonizing immigrants.
  • Take a balanced “both/and” approach – supporting smart border security AND creating legal pathways for immigrants to get right with the law and fully participate
  • Name the culprits: politicians like Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican allies who scapegoat immigrants to divide us rather than pursuing real solutions. Take every opportunity to expose their motivations to distract, obstruct solutions, and preserve power through racial division.
  • Be sure to highlight past progress and to envision future victories we can achieve by joining together across racial lines to demand policies that uphold freedom and human dignity.
  • Be certain to lead with shared values like freedom, community, equality and responsibility. Connect proposed policies to upholding the values at the heart of the American identity.

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Use values-based messages – Freedom/autonomy, justice/equity, and health are values that drive attitudes on abortion
  • Focus on outcomes/impact on individuals and communities
  • Link attacks on abortion to the broader MAGA attack on our freedoms

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Housing: Even in well-performing messaging, rural voters especially resonate with affordability and access issues, and maybe also homelessness.
  • Healthcare: (Medicare, prescription drugs) messaging performs above average, and those messages can be combined with “anti-government involvement”  or “pro-freedom” abortion and contraception messaging, which also perform fairly well.

Pro-LGBTQ messaging performs badly, even highly effective messages that work well generally, underperform with rural voters.

*Messaging on this topic is very effective with young voters 18-30 and older voters 55+

Top-Line Messaging Principles (Full Messaging Guide)

  • Economic Security for All Americans: Emphasize that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are essential pillars providing economic stability and healthcare support to millions of Americans, especially the elderly, disabled, and low-income individuals.
  • Universal Protection: Emphasize that these programs protect individuals across all demographics, ensuring that every American has access to necessary support in times of need.
  • Long-term Sustainability: Drive home the point that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not only vital for current beneficiaries but are also structured to support future generations with appropriate reforms.
  • Contrast with MAGA plans: As is appropriate, contrast progressive commitments to protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid with MAGA Republican plans to cut these vital programs all while giving tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations. 
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