Abortion Bans Are a Top Issue for Democratic Voters This Midterm, Poll Shows

Half of voters say the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutional right to an abortion has made them more motivated to vote in next month’s midterm elections, with enthusiasm growing especially among Democrats and those living in states with abortion bans, according to a new poll from KFF.

The survey also showed Most voters, regardless of party, don’t believe abortion should be banned in cases where rape or incest occurs. They also oppose laws that criminalize abortion providers and women who have had abortions.

The findings, collected in late September through KFF’s regular survey of public opinion on health care issues, highlight that even the majority of Republican voters oppose some of the laws that have strictly restrained abortion access — including for those who have been raped — that are now in effect in Republican-led states such as Texas and Missouri. However, abortions that save a mother’s health have been allowed in states with such strict standards.

With Democrats currently holding the Senate and House of Representatives by narrow margins, and many close races underway in the race for the Senate, the future of Congress could rest on voter turnout. While voters are less likely not to vote on a single issue as a basis for their choice, they may be more likely to vote on an important issue.

The KFF poll showed neither party holds a notable “motivation advantage,” with more than half of both Democratic and Republican voters reporting they feel more inclined to vote in this election than previous ones. Voters who declared they were independents stated that they were less inclined than in previous elections to vote.

It was their reasons that made the difference. Voters who stated they were more motivated said that reproductive rights was their top issue, while Republicans said that the economy and inflation was their top issue. The economy and abortion were equally divided by independents. Almost 7 in 10 Democrats said they were motivated by the court’s decision, compared with 49% of independents and 32% of Republicans.

Among women of reproductive age, 44% said they are more motivated to vote this year, with nearly 6 in 10 attributing their feelings to the court’s decision and more than 5 in 10 pointing to abortion laws in their home state.

Of voters living in states with full abortion bans, 51% said their state’s laws had made them more motivated to vote, suggesting the potential for higher Democratic voter turnout in several Republican states.

The poll showed 76% of all voters motivated by the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade Vote for candidates who support abortion access.

The findings also showed striking agreement: More than 8 in 10 voters nationally oppose laws that prohibit abortion in cases of rape or incest — as do more than 8 in 10 voters living in states with the strictest abortion bans, as well as more than 8 in 10 voters living in states with abortion protections.

While 70% of Republican voters approved of the court’s decision, a majority of Republicans also said they oppose laws that ban abortion in all cases or that make it a crime to have or perform an abortion.

Seven out of 10 Republican voters oppose the prohibition on abortion in cases involving rape or incest. A mere 64% of Republicans oppose making it a crime in order to make it illegal for women to get an abortion. Only 51% oppose making it a crime on the part of doctors to perform it.

One-third of Republicans oppose prohibiting abortion once fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically about six weeks after a woman’s last menstrual cycle — the marker that has become the basis for six-week abortion bans in several states.

The KFF poll also asked voters about changes to Medicare under the Inflation Reduction Act, landmark legislation approved by the Democratic-controlled Congress in August. About a third or fewer of Americans are aware of the law’s health provisions, which include extending financial subsidies for those who purchase health insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, limiting out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries, capping their insulin costs, and allowing the federal government to negotiate the price of some prescription drugs for those in Medicare.

The poll showed that Americans 65 and older, who stand to benefit most as Medicare’s primary beneficiaries, are more likely to vote for candidates who support the law’s changes for health care costs.

The online and telephone surveys were conducted between Sept. 15 and 26, with a sample size of 1,534 adults. The sampling error margin for the entire sample is +/- 3 percentage points, but may be higher for subgroups.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling KHN This is one of three major operating programs. KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed non-profit organization that provides information to the nation on health issues.