One in 8 Voters Cite Abortion as Most Important Issue: Poll

By   |  March 8, 2024

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

THURSDAY, March 7, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Abortion rights will play a pivotal role in determining how people will vote in the 2024 election, a new KFF poll has found.

About one in eight voters (12%) now say abortion is the most important issue for their vote in the upcoming elections.

Further, around half of voters overall say this year’s presidential election (51%), Congressional election (53%), and which party controls their state legislature (55%) will have a “major impact” on access to abortion, results show.

Among abortion voters and Democratic voters, those who say it will have a major impact rises to at least two-thirds, KFF pollsters added.

Abortion rights also resonate among Republican voters, results show.

About “43% of Republicans overall say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but few Republicans who want abortion to be legal seem ready to buck their party over the abortion issue,” KFF pollsters wrote in the new report.

“In tight races, however, even small shifts could become important,” KFF researchers added.

Most of the public (58%) -- and most women under age 50 (61%) -- oppose a national 16-week abortion ban, which former President Donald Trump reportedly supports.

And about two-thirds of voters said Trump had at least some responsibility for the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, since the three justices he appointed to the court supported that ruling.

The abortion issue particularly resounds with certain key groups of women voters, the KFF poll found:

  • More than one in every four Black women (28%) said abortion is the most important issue to their 2024 vote, as did more than one in five Democratic female voters (22%).

  • One in five women in states with abortion bans (19%) and women who plan to vote for Biden (19%) said abortion will drive their vote.

  • One in six (17%) women of childbearing age said abortion is their most important issue.

Overall, a majority of these voters say it should be legal in all or most cases, results show.

That’s a significant shift from elections prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, when abortion-driven voters were largely pro-life, KFF noted.

About half of this election’s abortion-focused voters (48%) say they would vote for President Joe Biden if the election were held today, nearly double the share (26%) that would vote for Trump, results show.

That group voted for Biden over Trump by a similar margin in 2020, but about one in five say they didn’t vote in that election.

The public also is largely supportive of policies protecting access to abortion, the KFF poll found.

Nearly nine in 10 adults (86%) overwhelmingly support protecting access to abortion for patients experiencing pregnancy-related emergencies, such as miscarriages. This includes large majorities of Democrats (92%), independents (89%) and Republicans (79%).

Two-thirds (66%) support guaranteeing a federal right to an abortion, including three quarters (76%) of women under age 50, nearly nine in 10 Democrats (86%) and two-thirds of independents (67%). Even a sizable minority of Republicans (43%), support such a guarantee.

There’s also substantial public opposition to policies advocated by abortion opponents, researchers found.

For example, 62% oppose making it a crime for health care providers to mail abortion pills to states where abortion is prohibited. Also, 61% oppose prohibiting clinics that receive federal funds from providing abortions or referring patients to abortion providers.

However, about two-thirds of the public (64%) has not heard anything about an upcoming Supreme Court case involving the ability of doctors to mail and prescribe via telehealth the abortion pill mifepristone. That case is slated to be argued March 26.

When asked how they think about abortion, substantial majorities of the public said it is an issue of individual rights and freedoms (81%), a health care issue (68%) and a moral issue (62%). That includes at least half of Democrats, independents and Republicans.

Fewer see it as a religious issue (41%), though most Republicans (55%) do, pollsters added.

The public is divided regarding whether setbacks on abortion access will spill over into access to contraception.

Just under half (45%) of adults say they consider the right to use contraception as “secure,” despite the overturning of Roe v. Wade, results show.

About one in five (21%) say it is “a threatened right likely to be overturned,” and a third (34%) say they are not sure whether the right is threatened or secure.

Democrats are most likely to see the right to contraception as threatened (38%), results show.

The KFF poll involved a nationally representative sample of 1,316 U.S. adults, including 1,072 registered voters. The survey was conducted Feb. 20 through Feb. 28 online and by telephone, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

More information

Planned Parenthood has more about state-by-state access to abortion.

SOURCE: KFF, news release, March 7, 2024