Barely a month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade’s federal guarantee of access to abortion, two-thirds of Americans said they disapprove of the court’s decision and 6 in 10 said they want their states to make abortion legal, a new poll finds.
Yet despite that interest, abortion is not top of mind for many voters, the poll released Aug. 2 by KFF found. Three-quarters of registered voters said inflation and gas prices were their top concerns when considering decisions in the upcoming midterm elections. Abortion access was a key priority for 55% of voters, about the same as health care costs and gun violence. That was up from the 46% recorded by a KFF poll in February, after the Supreme Court had heard arguments in the case.
Democrats were much more likely to cite abortion as a top issue in their voting considerations than Republicans or independents. Increased concerns among female voters ages 18 to 49 were also evident in the poll, which found nearly 3 in 4 of them said abortion access was very important in their election considerations, up from 59% in February. Large majorities of Democratic and independent women in that age group said they want their states to guarantee abortion access, as do 4 in 10 Republican women of reproductive age.
The Supreme Court’s decision, however, does not appear to have had the galvanizing effect that some politicians expected. The poll found just a small increase in the percentage of voters who said they are now more motivated to vote from the percentage in May — 43% compared with 37% — after a leaked draft opinion from the court was published.
Among some key groups, however, the issue was more salient. About 6 in 10 female voters of reproductive age, up from 42% in May, said they are more likely to vote following the decision. Democratic and independent voters each reported a 9 percentage point increase among those who said abortion access was a motivating factor for the fall elections. A majority of Hispanic voters also said they are now more likely to vote.
More than half of independent voters and 83% of Democratic voters said they would support candidates who promise to protect abortion rights. One in 5 Republicans said the same, but just over half of GOP voters said they will favor candidates who want to limit abortion access.
The court’s decision appears to have created a split among Republican women, the poll found. A third said they disapprove of the decision and about a quarter of them say they plan to support a candidate who favors abortion access. The majority, however, said they will vote for people seeking to limit abortion.
Just over half of people living in states with pre-Roe abortion bans or laws that triggered bans or severe restrictions if Roe was overturned said they would rather have the state guarantee abortion access, while 32% of residents in those 17 states said they favor abortion bans.
Non-Hispanic Black Americans were also strongly opposed to their states banning abortions. Eighty-six percent said they did not want abortion bans, compared with 70% of non-Hispanic whites and 69% of Hispanic respondents. At the same time, 68% of Black Americans said they wanted their states to guarantee abortion rights, compared with 60% of white respondents and 61% of Hispanics. (Hispanics can be of any race or combination of races.)
The poll, conducted July 7-17 online and by telephone, has a 4 percentage point margin of sampling error for the full sample. For some of the subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.
KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.
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