Democratic strategists hoping that a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade would change the political landscape of the midterm elections in their favor might be disappointed.
In a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll, even Americans who oppose scrapping the landmark decision to recognize abortion rights by 2-1 — 59% to 29% — say the economy will be more important to their vote in November . Seven in ten say the Supreme Court’s action would have no effect on whether or not to vote.
“Gas prices are rising too high; inflation is ridiculous,” said Ben Hoffman, 35, of Karthaus, Pennsylvania, ticking off his top concerns. While the politically independent supports abortion rights, “I think the state of the economy right now here in the fall is going to be a matter of life and death if things continue in the high price direction they’re headed.”
For most voters, that well-known maxim – “It’s the economy, stupid” – still applies.
The possible decision of the Supreme Court, signaled in a draft majority opinion leaked to Politico in May would overwhelm other issues for some.
“If you take away a woman’s choice of reproduction or refuse to exercise reasonable gun control, lives are literally at stake,” said Lynda Tarantino, 54, a Buffalo, New York attorney who also participated in the study. . A Democrat, she said she cares about those values ”much more than a few hundred dollars that I would have to spend because inflation is high.”
But the overall findings raise questions about whether a Supreme Court decision would salvage Democrats’ dim prospects by energize core supporters and pull swing voters to their side.
Only 16% of those who oppose the undoing of Roe v. Wade say that abortion is the number one issue shaping their vote — the exact same percentage as those who are in favor of undoing it.
The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken from June 12-15 via landlines and mobile phones, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
GOP at odds with voters over abortion
Republicans are also at risk with an anti-abortion stance that puts them at odds with most voters.
By more than 2-1.61% to 28%, those polled opposed overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized abortion as a right during the early months of a pregnancy. That majority includes 30% of Republicans and 64% of Independents, the non-aligned group that usually decides on close elections.
At over 2-1.63% to 30%, they believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and not in all or most cases.
At 51%-40%, they want one national abortion policy, not a patchwork of state laws. Reversing Roe would allow individual states to allow or ban abortions.
“I’ve always been a man of state rights,” said Brian Schuster, 75, a retiree from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. “If a state wants to (take action against abortion) based on where they are in the country – the Midwest is much more conservative, as is the South; the East and West Coasts are very liberal – that’s their right.”
Schuster, an independent, describes himself as opposed to abortion, but adds that he supports exceptions to an abortion ban if, for example, the pregnancy is the result of rape or if the mother’s life is threatened. “There are limits,” he said.
Abortion is now woven into the personal experiences of most Americans. By a wide margin, 58%-38%, respondents said they knew someone in their family or friends who had had an abortion.
Women are more likely than men to know someone who has had an abortion, 68% to 49%. Those who opposed the reversal of Roe v. Wade were more likely to know someone than those who were in favor of reversing the decision, 63% to 54%.
“I was in the Navy; I was 18; I was in a relationship with a friend who wasn’t a very good friend,” said Stacy Hannah of Gulfport, Florida, of her own experience with abortion.
Now 61, she is the carer for the man she later married. At the time, she had been using birth control and was not yet ready to have a child. “I didn’t have my first child until I was 31,” she said. “I was no longer a mother when I was 18.”
The women she knows who have had abortions “did it for economic or health reasons, or any number of reasons, but none as a form of birth control,” she said. “It’s all done with serious thought.”
Randall Huber, 33, of Isleton, California, a libertarian who supports abortion rights, once helped a friend go to an abortion clinic after she was sexually assaulted. But he also notes that his mother had potentially life-threatening medical complications while pregnant with him. “It was a difficult choice for her to make” to continue the pregnancy, he said.
A country on the wrong track
Less than five months before the midterm elections, the survey maps a political landscape tilted against Democrats. Only 39% of Americans approve of the work Joe Biden does as president; 47% disapprove of it ‘strongly’. Seventy-one percent say the country is heading in the wrong direction, a level of concern that has historically signaled serious electoral setbacks for the party that controls the White House and Congress.
When asked whether they would support the Democratic congressional candidate or the Republican candidate if the election were today, they split 40-40%.
Abortion and midterm elections: Would the demise of Roe v. Wade reshape the midterm elections? Ask that question in October.
Some top Democrats have predicted a Supreme Court decision would shake things up, especially as some states immediately move to ban abortions.
“To the American people, I say this: The November election will have consequences because the rights of 100 million women are now on the agenda,” Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said recently at a rally in Capitol Hill. †
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, DN.Y., head of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, has called abortion “the central choice in the 2022 election.”
A Supreme Court decision to reverse half a century of abortion rights would be a seismic event, and the consequences impossible to predict with confidence. The parameters and language of the final ruling, and the response of states to restrict or allow abortions, could influence what the political impact would be.
Yet in the survey, 39% of those who support Roe v. Wade say they would vote for a candidate they disagreed with about abortion if they agreed with him or her on other issues. That is slightly lower than the 45% who say no.
Independents support abortion rights with 64% to 23%. But by a slightly wider margin, 67% to 20%, that key electorate cares more about the economy than about abortion as a political issue. Three quarters of them, 74%, say a court decision would not affect whether or not they go to the polls in November; 21% say they are more likely to vote as a result.
Of those who support Roe v. Wade, 26% say they would be more likely to vote if the court overturned it.
“I’m not exactly sure why we’re going back in a direction that we already realized was a mistake at the time,” Sheri Erickson, 50, a restaurant manager from Beaverton, Oregon, said of efforts to overturn abortion rights. “That’s like saying we’re going back to slavery.”
But Erickson, an independent, has something else on her mind when considering how to vote.
“Look at gas prices,” she said. “I work hard; my husband has his own business and we can hardly afford it where we are now.” Costs have increased for food and fuel, but her salary has not kept up. Her biggest concern: “Our middle class is getting closer and closer to us and has no living wage of its own,” she said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Overthrowing Roe Won’t Save Democrats in Midterm Election: Poll