Americans remain broadly opposed to overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would strike down the landmark ruling.
Sixty-six percent say Roe v. Wade should not be completely struck down, and 59% would support Congress passing legislation to establish a nationwide right to abortion, including 81% of Democrats, 65% of independents and 30% of Republicans, the survey finds.
But comparing the results of the new poll to one conducted immediately before the revelation of the draft opinion, the impact on the political landscape heading into the 2022 midterms appears fairly muted.
The share of registered voters who say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall rose 6 points between the first survey and the second, but that increase is about even across party lines. Among Democrats, 43% now say they are extremely or very enthusiastic, up 7 points. Among Republicans, it’s 56%, up 9 points. And voters who say overturning Roe would make them “happy” are nearly twice as enthusiastic about voting this fall as those who say such a ruling would leave them “angry” (38% extremely enthusiastic among those happy, 20% among those angry).
The share of Americans who would be angry in the wake of such a ruling (36%) sharply outweighs that who would be happy (17%), and some of the poll’s findings suggest the issue could become a motivating factor for Roe supporters should the draft opinion become the final one. Younger adults are particularly apt to say they would feel angry if Roe were overturned (47% among those younger than 45, compared with 26% among older adults). But younger voters remain far less enthusiastic about casting a ballot this fall – just 9% of them are extremely enthusiastic about voting this fall vs. 31% of older voters.
More broadly, 37% of Americans strongly support Congress establishing a nationwide right to abortion, more than the 28% who strongly oppose such an action. Half (51%) say that if Roe falls, they want their state to become a safe haven for women seeking abortion, compared with 20% who say the procedure should be banned completely in their state. And the share of Americans who say their views on abortion align more with Democrats than Republicans rose 7 points between the two polls (44% with Democrats, 32% with Republicans in the later poll vs. 37% Democrats, 31% Republicans in the earlier one).
Abortion not the only factor for most voters
Republicans hold a narrow edge over Democrats on the generic ballot test, 49% to 42% among registered voters, a slight improvement for Republicans compared with the poll conducted immediately before the ruling. On the economy – the issue most likely to be a driving factor for voters this fall – nearly half of adults (46%) in the latest poll say the Republican Party’s positions are more aligned with their own, compared with 31% for the Democratic Party. About three-quarters say that which party controls Congress makes a real difference – a figure that did not shift between the two polls – with more Republicans saying so than Democrats (88% vs. 78%).
Those findings suggest the overall picture for the midterm elections is little changed after this week’s news, at least in the short term. Only about half of the country say they have heard a great deal or a good amount about the draft Supreme Court opinion thus far (49%), with 51% saying they’ve heard just some or nothing at all about it.
The poll conducted after the draft ruling became public also finds a small increase since January in the share of Americans who say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on abortion; that view increased more among Republicans (from 15% in January to 26% now) than among Democrats (24% in January to 29% now). On this measure, though, the ideological divide tells a different story, with liberals’ commitment to a candidate who shares their views on abortion rising 12 points; among conservatives, it’s up 6 points.
Should Roe fall, most now say they would like their own state to set abortion laws that are more permissive toward abortion (58%) than restrictive (42%). Those percentages are similar to the results of a CNN poll conducted in January, though about half (52%) think abortions would become at least somewhat harder to get where they live if Roe were overturned. There is a larger share in the new poll compared with January, though, who say that if Roe is struck down, they do not think that abortion would become harder to get where they live (25% now vs. 14% in January). That shift is driven mostly by men: 35% say so now vs. 19% in January. Among women, 16% say so now vs. 10% in January.
Further threats to privacy
In considering the impact that a ruling like the draft opinion might have on other laws resting on privacy rights, Americans are more likely to see a couple’s right to marry regardless of their gender as under threat (38% see it as threatened, 35% as secure) than they are to say the same of a woman’s right to use contraception (23% threatened, 63% secure) or a couple’s right to marry regardless of race or ethnicity (19% threatened, 66% secure). Democrats see more of a threat across the board, including 57% who say same-sex marriage is threatened vs. 21% among Republicans. Overall, nearly two-thirds (63%) say the Supreme Court ought to consider public opinion in making its decisions.
More CNN polling news
There are particularly sharp divisions by age over abortion, and the strong backing for abortion rights among younger adults suggests an opening Democrats could use to boost their standing with this group, whose support of President Joe Biden has waned. Among those younger than 45, 75% oppose overturning Roe and 68% support Congress establishing a nationwide abortion right, compared with 58% opposed to overturning Roe and 51% in favor of congressional action to codify abortion rights among those older than 45. And 30% of younger people say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on the issue vs. 23% among older people.
In the earlier poll, perceptions of each party’s alignment with the mainstream are about equal. Roughly half of the public, 52%, say they see the views and policies of the Democratic Party as generally mainstream rather than too extreme, with 54% saying the same of the Republican Party. Partisans are generally comfortable with their own party: 90% of Republicans see the GOP as mainstream, and an identical 90% of Democrats consider their party to be mainstream. Just 13% of Americans view both parties as too extreme.
While Republicans are better aligned with Americans’ views on the economy and Democrats on abortion, the two polls show that several other issues are more closely divided. Americans are split on which party shares more of their views on voting rights and election integrity (41% say Democrats, 38% Republicans), helping the middle class (35% Democrats, 32% Republicans), education (35% Democrats, 34% Republicans) and the United States’ role in world affairs (35% say Republicans, 30% Democrats). The GOP has a significant lead on immigration (42% to 34%) and crime and policing (43% to 28%), while Democrats do on women’s rights (45% to 29%). Other than abortion, Americans’ party preferences changed little on the issues that were tested in both surveys.
The two CNN polls were conducted by SSRS online and by phone, with both samples drawn from a probability-based panel. One survey was conducted from April 28-May 1 among a random national sample of 1,007 adults. Results for the full sample of that poll have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The second was conducted from May 3-5 among a random national sample of 800 adults. It has an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 points.
The headline of this story has been updated.