Has abortion motivated for a long time Republicans as a political issue. But after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in early September not to block the new Texas law that bans most abortions once an ultrasound can detect heart activity, usually about six weeks after a pregnancy, many have argued that reproductive rights could make democrats more motivated. As a Republican pollster recently did Associated press“It will be a very motivating topic for women who were not normally single-topic pro-choice voters.”
Tracking data from The economist / YouGov seems to support this view. In every weekly poll since February, respondents have been asked about the importance of abortion, and as we can see in the chart below, the issue has since lost its importance for Democrats and Republicans.
For most of 2021, Trump voters were more likely than Biden voters to say that abortion was a “very important” issue to them. That matched the long story Opponents of abortion rate the issue as more important than its proponents. However, as the graph above shows, this pattern was dramatically reversed after the Texas ban on abortion went into effect. Averaging the five weekly polls conducted by The Economist / YouGov since then, 51 percent of Biden supporters rated abortion a very important issue, compared with just 39 percent of Trump supporters. Morning Consult survey shows that the proportion of Democratic women who said topics like abortion, contraception and equal pay are central to federal election election nearly doubled in the immediate aftermath of the Texas ban.
Democrats had also heard “a lot” about new restrictive abortion laws in Texas and Mississippi almost twice as often as Republicans (49 percent versus 26 percent respectively) October 3-5 Economist / YouGov poll). This is likely due to how little airtime Texan law has on both among Republican politicians and conservative media outlets like Fox News. Remember that Fox News mentioned “Abortion” 392 times in September, compared to 1,326 and 2,969 mentions on CNN and MSNBC, respectively. Republican politicians and conservative media organizations are supposedly scared the possible backlash from the unpopular Texas law.
The fact that Democrats are more likely to say they care about abortion and that they have heard a great deal about Texan law fits well with a familiar pattern in public polling: Americans whose political commitments are threatened respond by increasing the prioritization of them Subjects. That happened several times in recent decades during high profile public political debates and existing research even suggests that political threats can mobilize voter turnout.
We saw a similar phenomenon in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In a survey by The economist / YouGov a week before the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton voters and Trump voters were equally likely to say health care was a “very important” issue (76 percent and 75 percent, respectively). But when Trump and the Republican majority in Congress pushed for Obamacare to be overturned in the first year of his presidency, Democrats and Republicans increasingly argued over the importance of the issue. Until End of April 2017, health care was a very important issue for 85 percent of Clinton voters versus only 67 percent of Trump supporters. This is significant because democratic voters made health care their priority most important topic in the 2018 midterm elections, with Democrats more than twice as likely as Republicans to do that.
Whether Democrats continue to prioritize abortion will inevitably depend in large part on how the Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of next year a Mississippi statute that prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. It also remains to be seen how further restrictions on reproductive rights will affect midterms 2022 – threats to the health care status quo helped the Democrats in 2018 and injured her in 2010. But regardless of how the court decides, the public’s strong beliefs about abortion make it an unusually strong issue in American politics – an issue that matters to voters have even changed parties in the past. Any increasing importance of abortion to Democratic voters is therefore likely to be a boon to the party’s unlikely chances of retaining its narrow majorities in Congress after the 2022 midterm elections.