• Polling

Americans Increasingly Favor Abortion Rights Following Leaked Draft Decision

Thursday, May 12, 2022 By Bryan Bennett
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Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.
Key takeaways
  • A majority of Americans are hearing about the Supreme Court’s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and majorities remain broadly and deeply supportive of the ruling.
  • Four in five Americans feel the decision to get an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor rather than politicians and the government.
  • Nearly two in three identify as “pro-choice” and say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
  • There has been a significant increase in perceived threat to abortion nationwide and in one’s state, with greatest state-level risk felt in the Midwest, the South, and in states with trigger laws banning abortion.
  • Americans are feeling “frustrated,” “uneasy,” and “angry” about the draft decision on Roe, and majorities of Democrats and pro-choice Americans feel motivated to vote in 2022 following the draft decision.
  • Republicans are seen as standing behind this unpopular decision, and when an election is framed as a choice between a Democrat who supports abortion rights and a Republican who supports abortion bans, it hurts Republicans.
  • The Supreme Court is significantly less trusted following the draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and majorities oppose the Court overruling precedent on issues like birth control, interracial marriage, and marriage equality.

Awareness of the Decision from the Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade Is High With Democrats and Republicans

This compares to 37% who said they were following the news “very closely” when Russia first invaded Ukraine in our early March survey.

By a 2-to-1 Margin, Roe v. Wade Is Viewed Favorably and Increasingly So

Independents are favorable toward Roe v. Wade by 17 points (41% favorable to 24% unfavorable).

  • Among Catholics (net +21), Protestants (+13), and evangelical Christians (+3), Roe is in the positive.

Overwhelming Majorities Say Women and Their Doctors Should Decide on Abortion, Not the Government and Politicians

Though majorities of men and women say it should be left to a woman and her doctor, women are more likely to say so (67% feel this way strongly, 83% feel this way overall) compared to 58% of men who feel strongly and 78% who feel this way overall.

Nearly Three in Four Americans Support Abortion Being Legal

Almost two in five Americans say that while they are personally against abortion for themselves and their family, they don’t think government should intervene (37%) while another two in five (36%) say it should be legal and is morally acceptable.

  • Roughly two in five independents (42%) and Republicans (38%) each say they are personally against it but think it should be legal.

Compared to April, Americans Identify Increasingly as Pro-Choice and Feel Abortion Should Be Legal in All or Most Cases

Since late April, there has been an 8-point net increase in the share who are “pro-choice” (from net +22 to +30) and in the net share who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (from net +14 to +22).

Americans Perceive a Growing National Risk to the Right to an Abortion

There has been an 8-point increase in the share who say abortion nationally is at risk (from 63% to 71%) since April.

More Acute State-Level Risks to Abortion Rights Are Felt in the Midwest, South, and in States With Trigger Laws on Abortion

While 56% of Americans overall say the right to an abortion in their state is at risk, those in the Midwest (62%), the South (66%), and in states with trigger laws* (71%) most strongly feel the right to an abortion in their state is at risk.

Americans Feel “Frustrated,” “Uneasy,” “Angry” About the Supreme Court’s Draft Decision to Overturn Roe

Frustration is the dominant emotion among Democrats and across racial groups; uneasiness is most prevalent among independents and hope among Republicans.

Nearly Two in Five Americans Plan to Get Engaged on Abortion Rights

A majority of Democrats (56%) and roughly two in five Black Americans (36%), Hispanic Americans (38%), white Americans (37%), and AAPI (40%) plan to get engaged on abortion rights.

Democrats Are More Motivated to Vote Following Roe

More than half of Americans say the Supreme Court potentially overturning Roe v. Wade makes them more motivated to vote in 2022, including 71% of Democrats and 66% of pro-choice Americans.

Protecting the Right to Abortion and Reproductive Healthcare Remain Strengths for Biden and Democrats Over Republicans

Among independents, Biden and Democrats are more trusted by 27 points to protect the right to abortion and 22 points to protect reproductive healthcare.

Republicans Are Seen as Supporting the Overturning of Roe, and Nearly Half Say It Makes Them Less Favorable to GOP

Two in five independents (40%) and nearly a quarter of Republicans (23%) say they would be less favorable to Republicans in Congress if they supported the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Republican Party Is Seen as More Extreme on Abortion Than the Democratic Party

Nearly three in five say the Republican Party is extreme on abortion (56%), compared to 46% who say the same of Democrats.

  • Nearly half of independents (49%) and pro-choice Republicans (48%) say that the Republican Party is extreme on abortion.

A Nationwide Ban on Abortion Is Deeply Unpopular and Republicans Who Support It are “Harmful” and “Out of Touch”

A majority of independents (58%) and a plurality of Republicans (46%) oppose legislation that would ban abortions nationwide.

A Majority Support Congress Codifying Roe v. Wade to Federally Protect the Right to an Abortion

Majorities of Democrats (80%), Black Americans (70%), and Hispanic Americans (65%) support the move, along with a plurality of independents (48%).

An Election Between a Republican Who Supports Abortion Bans and a Pro-Choice Democrat Damages Republican Standing

Against a Republican who wants to ban abortion nationally, a Democrat who supports abortion access has a 19-point advantage on a Congressional ballot (53% Democrat to 34% Republican). Among independents, the Democrat has a 21-point lead (34% Democrat to 13% Republican, 53% undecided).

A Plurality Sees the Court as Too Conservative, and Top Descriptors Are “Ultra-Conservative,” “Republican,” “Trump”

Two in five say the Supreme Court is headed down a path of being too conservative following the draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – and among those who feel it is too conservative, they call it an “ultra-conservative majority,” “Republican” or “Trump” Court.

Trust in SCOTUS Has Declined Notably Following the Roe Draft Decision, Declining Further With Explicit Roe Mention

Since last asked April 18th, there has been a 22-point net decline in trust in the Supreme Court to make the right decisions, including a 54- point decline among Democrats and a 38-point decline among independents.

  • Three in five do not trust the Supreme Court with explicit Roe mention (including 78% of Democrats and 76% of independents).

Potentially Overturned Rulings of Greatest Concern Are Interracial Marriage, Contraception, Same-Sex Rights

Majorities oppose the Supreme Court overturning the rulings that legalized interracial marriage (69%), buying and using contraception (71%), same-sex sexual intimacy (62%), marriage equality (58%), and the regulation of greenhouse gases at the federal level (55%).

About The Study

This release features findings from national online surveys of 999 registered voters conducted May 5-May 9, 2022. Additional interviews were conducted among 101 Hispanic voters, 100 African American voters, 100 independents without a partisan lean, and 101 Asian American and Pacific Islander voters.

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About Navigator

In a world where the news cycle is the length of a tweet, our leaders often lack the real-time public-sentiment analysis to shape the best approaches to talking about the issues that matter the most. Navigator is designed to act as a consistent, flexible, responsive tool to inform policy debates by conducting research and reliable guidance to inform allies, elected leaders, and the press. Navigator is a project led by pollsters from Global Strategy Group and GBAO along with an advisory committee, including: Andrea Purse, progressive strategist; Arkadi Gerney, The Hub Project; Joel Payne, The Hub Project; Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List; Delvone Michael, Working Families; Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute; Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO; Jesse Ferguson, progressive strategist; Navin Nayak, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Stephanie Valencia, EquisLabs; and Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

For press inquiries contact: press@navigatorresearch.org