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Poll: SCOTUS Anti-Abortion Ruling Could Motivate Strong Dem Turnout in Midterms

51 percent of voters say they’re more likely to support a candidate that backs a federal law enshrining abortion rights.

Abortion rights activists protest in Washington, D.C., on June 26, 2022.

New polling taken directly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion rights that were recognized in Roe v. Wade finds that voters are more likely to back candidates in this year’s midterms who support reestablishing abortion rights through federal legislation.

According to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted over the weekend, 56 percent of Americans do not support the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the conservative majority ruled to undo the abortion protections established in Roe. Fifty-five percent of respondents said that they think of themselves as mostly supporting abortion rights, while only 36 percent said that they opposed those types of rights.

The poll also asked questions about whether the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion ruling would affect Americans’ voting patterns this fall. Fifty-one percent of likely voters said that the decision made them more likely to support candidates who back passing legislation to restore abortion protections across the U.S., while just 36 percent said that they would vote against such candidates.

The poll also found a widening gap when it comes to who voters plan to back in this year’s midterms. Forty-eight percent of registered voters said they’d vote for a Democratic candidate for Congress if the election were being held today, while 41 percent said they’d vote for a Republican. The 7-point gap is wider than what the same poll found in May, when Democrats were ahead by five points, and is a 10-point jump from April, when Republicans led Democrats by three points.

The Supreme Court decision from last week may also lessen a widely acknowledged “motivation gap” between Democratic-leaning voters and Republican ones. On whether the ruling will make them more likely to vote in this year’s midterms, 78 percent of Democrats said that it would, versus just 54 percent of Republicans who voiced a similar sentiment.

Separate polling data from other organizations, including an Economist/YouGov poll conducted two weeks ago, showed that while Democrats and Republicans appear to be tied on the question of who should control Congress, Republican voters seemed more likely to vote in the midterms.

Other surveys also indicate that the Supreme Court’s decision will have an effect in November, mostly benefiting Democrats. An NBC News survey in May showed that 1 in 10 voters said that abortion was their top issue, with 52 percent saying that they’d back a candidate who would pledge to prevent Roe from being overturned — a single point difference from the Marist poll published this week.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the party of an incumbent president typically does poorly in the first midterms after they are inaugurated. Prognosticators have indeed begun predicting that Congress is Republicans’ to lose in this year’s races. But this latest polling data suggests that it’s possible that the race will be much tighter than many experts have predicted — and that Democrats could potentially retain control of one or both houses of Congress if they back measures that resonate with voters.

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