Poll: 12% of U.S. voters say abortion is their top voting issue

Kentucky Health News

About one in eight voters said in a national poll last month that abortion will be the most important issue influencing their votes this year, and most opposed the 16-week abortion ban that former president Donald Trump has reportedly discussed endorsing.

Most voters who say abortion is the most important issue to their vote say abortion should be legal in all cases. “This is a significant shift from elections prior to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, when abortion voters were largely those who identified as pro-life,” says the Kaiser Family Foundation, which sponsored the poll.
Though the issue has become a major dividing line between the major political parties, 43% of Republicans say abortion should be legal in most or all cases. However, “Few Republicans who want abortion to be legal seem ready to buck their party over the abortion issue,” the foundation says.
Asked about a national 16-week abortion ban, 58% of voters oppose it; 63% of Republicans favor it.
Kentucky has both a six-week abortion ban and a law that bans all abortions except those needed to save the woman’s life or prevent serious, permanent damage to a life-sustaining organ.

The national poll found Americans largely supportive of abortion rights. Examples include:

  • 66% support a federal guarantee of abortion rights.
  • 86% of adults, including large majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans, said they would allow abortion in pregnancy-related emergencies such as miscarriages.
  • More tahn 60% oppose making it a crime for health-care providers to mail abortion pills to patients in states where abortion is prohibited, and policies that prohibit clinics that receive federal funds from providing abortions or referring patients to abortion providers.

Asked how they think about abortion, most said it is an issue of individual rights and freedoms (81%), a health-care issue (68%) and a moral issue (62%). Only 41% see it as a religious issue, but 41%of Republicans do.

“Many voters, especially Democrats, see the 2024 election as a high-stakes election for determining the future of access to abortion and contraception,” the pollsters said. Half of voters say they think the elections for president, Congress, and state legislatures will have a ‘major impact’ on access to abortion.” That view is driven by Democratic voters (about two-thirds) and those who say abortion is their most important voting issue (about 70%).
The poll was conducted Feb. 20-28, online and by telephone among a nationally representative sample of 1,316 U.S. adults, including 1,072 registered voters. Interviews were conducted in English and in Spanish. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample and 4 percentage points for the sample of registered voters. For results based on other subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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