McCrory’s signing of the 72-hour wait for abortion bill is about protecting his right flank. Last week, he angered social conservatives and many in the legislature when he vetoed SB 2, the magistrates bill. He has to do something to placate them.

So why did he choose to sign the abortion bill and not the magistrates bill? It’s because the GOP base is very much pro-life. And unlike the gay marriage issue (where we see younger Republicans supporting it at much higher rates than their older counterparts), opposition to abortion is pretty uniform across age lines.

In the modern GOP, being seen as pro-choice – or at least, not in favor of increased restrictions on abortion – is a bad place to be. The base knows that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land; they want their politicians to chip away at it through any legal means possible. While liberals and possibly even a majority of the state don’t agree, the three-day wait for abortion measure is seen by the GOP base in North Carolina as a commonsense measure that will prevent hasty decisions and hopefully reduce the number of abortions.

Thus, McCrory found himself between a rock and a hard place. Veto it or not sign it and he further distances himself from the base. Sign it, and he gets vilified by the Left. Now, there’s nothing extremely controversial or politically toxic about the bill itself, but McCrory did promise that he wouldn’t sign any bills with future restrictions on abortions. Did McCrory break his promise? Well, it depends on how you define “restriction.” One can argue that the bill doesn’t technically restrict abortions, but voters care little about technicalities.

The bottom line is that it’s a tough balancing act for McCrory. At least he can credibly claim that he’s stepped on the toes of both the left and the right, but that’s not always a good thing. Far from being an “Eisenhower Republican” embraced by the middle, the governor could find himself in no man’s land – constantly in the face of barbs thrown from the left, with no one on the right willing to defend him. Nevertheless, it’s probably a risk the governor has to take if he wants to run a successful reelection campaign.

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