As Republicans in state capitals and Washington race to enact new restrictions on abortion following the fall of Roe v. Wade, a new poll shows that Americans have a message for lawmakers: Slow down and learn.
Seven in 10 Americans don’t think politicians “are informed enough” about abortion to “create fair policies” — a position held by majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, according to the survey of more than 20,000 adults by The 19th, a news organization focused on gender and politics, and SurveyMonkey. A majority of Americans also said they think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 35 percent said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
The data sheds new light on a top issue for both parties in the final weeks ahead of the November election. By overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the power to determine abortion policy back to the states, triggering new abortion restrictions across the country and juicing interest in the midterm elections among Democrats and women more broadly. Abortion has shot up as a key issue among voters, and it has partially fueled an improved outlook for Democrats in November.
And the issue is only getting more relevant as the general election draws nearer. This week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) rolled out proposed federal legislation that would put in place a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a bill that immediately divided Senate Republicans wary of stepping into a state issue — and potentially inflaming a debate that has been hurting the party this summer.
The poll from The 19th also reflects broad confusion among Americans over exactly what the end of Roe v. Wade will mean for abortion policy in the long term.
According to the survey results, 44 percent of people think abortion will become less accessible during their lifetime — while 22 percent believe they will gain more access. Notably, women are more pessimistic about the notion that abortion access could expand, with 48 percent saying they think abortion will be harder to access ,versus 40 percent of men who agreed.
General pessimism about government pervades the results. Only 4 in 10 adults said American institutions are “working well for them.” The split is even more stark by party: Over half of Democrats agreed with that statement, while only 28 percent of Republicans said America’s institutions work well for them.
The poll did show similar levels of partisan enthusiasm ahead of the midterms, as 73 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats said they were excited to vote in this fall’s election. That’s been reflected in public polling throughout much of the summer, which showed Democrats closing an enthusiasm gap, particularly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The survey also showed a deadlocked political environment, with 39 percent of adults saying they preferred to elect Democrats to Congress this fall to 38 percent who said they preferred Republicans.
The economy and “preserving democracy” tied as the top motivating issues for voters, followed by “America’s place in the world” and abortion. For adults under 35, abortion ranked higher, as their main motivation for voting this fall.
The poll was conducted online, in English and in Spanish, among more than 20,000 Americans from Aug. 22 to Aug. 29. The margin of error is plus or minus 1 percentage point.