Abortion access is rising as a voting and motivational issue, especially among Democrats and women of reproductive age, but inflation remains dominant as Americans worry about the laws

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion, a majority of voters (55%) now say access to abortion is “very important” to their vote in the November midterm elections, an increase of 9 percentage points from February before the decision, a new KFF health tracking survey find

This increased interest is greatest among key voter groups who largely want to ensure abortion access, including Democratic voters (77% now say abortion access is very important, up from 50% in February), Democratic women voters (82%, vs. 55%) and women voters under 50 (73%, vs. 59%).

At the same time, fewer Republican female voters say abortion access is very important to their vote now than in February (44%, down from 60%), perhaps a sign that the recent Supreme Court decision made the issue was less important to a group that largely wants to restrict abortion.

While abortion has become a more prominent issue for certain groups of voters, and while economic woes dominate, the poll suggests the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2022 midterms could have a marginal impact.

“Lowest turnout midterms can be a game of inches, and abortion could make a difference, especially if gas prices continue to fall,” said KFF President and CEO Drew Altman. “It’s motivating a lot of young women to vote, with most Democrats, half of independents, and even some Republicans planning to vote for candidates who support abortion access.”

For example, just over half of voters (54%) say the decision in Dobbs Women’s Health Center v. Jackson who overturned Roe v. Wade has made them “more likely” to consider a candidate’s position on abortion when deciding who to vote for. while few (3%) say it has made them “less likely” to do so.

This includes a large majority of Democratic voters (72%), Democratic female voters (72%), and female voters under the age of 50 (64%) who say the Roe overturn has made them “more likely” to consider the position of a candidate on abortion.

Additionally, when asked about the decision’s impact on their motivation to vote, 43% of all voters say it has made them “more motivated,” a slight increase compared to a similar question in May (37%). before the ruling of the Court but later the draft opinion was leaked. This includes nearly two-thirds of Democrats (64%), four in 10 independents (41%), and one-fifth of Republicans (20%). The vast majority (82%) of those who are most motivated say they plan to vote for candidates who will protect access to abortion.

Some groups saw a greater boost in motivation, including women of reproductive age. Now, 61% of this group say that the decision motivates them more to vote, 19 percentage points more than in May (42%). Again, the vast majority (88%) of the Motivated Group plan to vote for candidates who will protect access.

While some of these findings suggest abortion could play a bigger role in this year’s midterm elections, voters across the board continue to prioritize inflation, including gas prices, as their top voting issue.

Three-quarters (74%) of voters say inflation, including rising gas prices, will be “very important” to their vote. Access to abortion (55%) ranks second to gun violence (57%) and health care costs, including prescription drug costs (55%).

One reason inflation and gas prices may be high on voters’ priorities is that most people are concerned about their ability to afford routine household expenses.

This includes three-quarters (76%) who say they are at least somewhat concerned about paying for gas or other transportation costs. Slightly smaller majorities say they are worried about paying unexpected medical bills (64%), their monthly utilities like electricity and heat (62%), and food (61%).

post roemost adults want their state to guarantee access to abortion rather than ban it

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs allows states to make abortion laws in their state. The new poll finds that a majority (61%) of the public say they want their state to guarantee access to abortion, while a quarter (25%) want their states to ban it.

Those who favor state action to protect abortion access include strong majorities of Democrats (83%), independents (65%), and women of reproductive age (68%). In contrast, just over half (54%) of Republicans want their states to ban abortion.

There are 17 states that already have laws on the books prohibiting abortion, either before Roe or more recent laws that anticipate the end of Roe. About half (51%) of people who live in states that have or are expected to ban abortion soon say they want their state to protect abortion access, compared with a third (32%) who want their state to forbid it.

About two-thirds (68%) of women under the age of 50 want their state to guarantee access to abortion. This includes a large majority of Democrat (82%) and independent (74%) women in that age group, though about half (48%) of Republican women in that age group want their states to ban abortion.

Other findings include:

  • Two-thirds (65%) of the public disapprove of the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe. Most Democrats (90%) and independents (72%) disapprove of the decision, while most Republicans (71%) approve.
  • A majority of Democratic voters (83%) say they plan to vote for a candidate who wants to protect abortion access, as do a narrower majority (56%) of independent voters. Half of Republican voters (51%) plan to vote for a candidate who wants to limit access to abortion, although one in five (20%) plan to vote for a candidate who wants to protect access.
  • While most Republican women share their party’s views on abortion, a third (34%) disapprove of the Court’s decision that reversed Roe. A quarter (25%) of Republican female voters say they plan to vote for a candidate who wants to protect access to abortion.
  • In the 17 states that have abortion bans on the books, nearly three-quarters (73%) of residents know that abortion is banned or soon will be. In 16 states and the District of Columbia that have laws protecting abortion rights, a similar proportion (72%) know that abortion will remain legal in their states.

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the health tracking survey was conducted July 7-17, 2022, online and by phone among a nationally representative sample of 1,847 U.S. adults in English and Spanish. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the entire sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be larger.

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