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Abortion a Factor in 2020 Vote

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

GOP politicians seen as more occupied by the issue than Dems

West Long Branch, NJ – One-in-three Americans rank abortion as a top issue in deciding how they will vote in the 2020 election. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to feel this way according to the latest Monmouth University Poll.  Many Americans say that Republican politicians are spending too much time on the issue of abortion, at both the national and state level, especially when compared to Democratic officeholders.

Most Americans support access to abortion, including 32% who say it should always be legal and 31% who say it should be legal with some limitations. Another 24% say abortion should be illegal except for cases of rape or incest or to save the mother’s life and 10% say abortion should be illegal in all cases.  The vast majority of Democrats (81%) and most independents (63%) support general access to legal abortion, while only 41% of Republicans share this view.

One-third of American voters say that abortion will be a top factor in their vote for president next year, including 2% who say it is the most important issue and 32% who say it is very important to them. Another 30% say this issue will be a somewhat important factor in their vote, while 17% rate it as not too important and 17% as not at all important.  Democratic voters (44%) are more likely than either Republicans (26%) or independents (28%) to say that abortion will be a primary consideration in their 2020 vote decision. Among Democratic voters who rate the issue as very important in their vote, there is a close race for the party’s nomination: 28% of this group currently support Joe Biden, 21% Elizabeth Warren, 18% Bernie Sanders, 7% Kamala Harris, 5% Cory Booker, 4% Beto O’Rourke, 3% Pete Buttigieg, and 3% Andrew Yang.  Democrats who say abortion is not important in their vote choice are more likely than others to be undecided about their candidate preference overall. [See 2020 Democratic candidate poll.]

Among all voters who say that abortion should be illegal without exceptions, 62% say this issue will play a very important role in their presidential vote. Among those who say abortion should always be legal, 43% say it will be a significant factor. The issue is less important for those who say abortion should be illegal with a few exceptions (32%) and those who say it should be legal with some limitations (18%).  While abortion is a central issue for the 1-in-10 voters who want it banned in all cases, abortion access supporters who prioritize the issue are more numerous overall.  Among all voters who say abortion will be a very important factor in their presidential vote – regardless of which side of the issue they take – just 26% support Trump’s reelection.  The president’s reelection support increases to 35% among those who say the issue is somewhat important to them, 44% for those who say it is not too important, and 56% of those who say it is not at all important.

“We tend to focus on anti-abortion voters as the more potent electoral bloc on this issue.  But we are seeing some evidence that voters on the other side of the spectrum could become more activated in 2020,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

About half (49%) of Americans say Republican politicians in Washington are devoting too much effort to abortion given all the other things the federal government is responsible for. Another 20% say Republicans are not devoting enough effort to this issue and 22% say they are giving it the right amount of effort. This compares with 4-in-10 (39%) who say Democratic politicians in DC are giving the issue too much attention, versus 27% who say they are not giving it enough and 24% who say they are giving it the right amount.

Closer to home, there is less concern among the American public that Republican politicians in their own state are devoting too much effort to abortion issues (29%) given all the other things their state government needs to do.  Another 20% say they are devoting too little effort and 34% say they are doing the right amount.  These results are very similar for home state Democratic politicians – 26% of the public say these state leaders are spending too much effort on abortion, 23% say not enough, and 36% say the right amount.

Americans actually think that politicians in other states are more likely to be spending too much effort on abortion than those in their home states, with a sizable gap in the perception of what Republican and Democratic leaders are doing.  Half of the public (50%) say that GOP politicians in other states are devoting too much effort to abortion issues, 14% say not enough, and 18% the right amount.  Just 1-in-3 (34%) say that Democratic politicians in other states are devoting too much effort to abortion issues, 26% say not enough, and 22% say the right amount.

“Abortion has become important nationally because a number of GOP-controlled states are passing stringent restrictions in an attempt to bring this issue before the Supreme Court.  Many Americans seem to be wondering whether these officeholders shouldn’t be spending more time on other matters that their constituents care about,” said Murray.

Among Americans who identify with the Republican Party, just 26% think that federal politicians from their own party are devoting too much attention to abortion, while a larger number (58%) feel that Democratic politicians are actually spending too much time on this issue.  Among Democratic identifiers, just 23% feel that their own party’s representatives in Washington are spending too much time on abortion, while 64% say GOP politicians are actually doing that.  Independents are slightly more likely to say that federal Republican office holders (51%) spend too much effort on abortion than say the same about Democratic politicians in DC (40%).  One other interesting difference in these results is that Democrats (34%) are slightly more likely than Republicans (25%) to say that federal politicians from their own party are not doing enough on this issue.

“Some Democrats see legal abortion as being under threat from Republicans at the state level and want their own party’s national leaders to be more engaged in this fight,” said Murray.

The poll finds a large gap in perceptions of how much time each party’s officials in other states are spending on this issue.  For example, 68% of Democrats say that Republican politicians in other states are spending too much effort on abortion, but only 20% say the same of politicians from their own party.  On the other hand, less than half (46%) of Republicans say that Democratic politicians in other states are devoting too much attention to this issue, but only 23% say the same of politicians from their own party.  Independents are significantly more likely to feel that Republican politicians in other states are overly-focused on abortion (56%) when compared to how state-level Democrats are handling the issue (38%).

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 12 to 17, 2019 with 751 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-10 previously released.]

11. Which comes closest to your view on abortion: it should always be legal, it should be legal with some limitations, it should be illegal except for rape, incest or to save the mother’s life, or it should always be illegal?

  June
2019
Always legal 32%
Legal with limitations 31%
Illegal with exceptions 24%
Always illegal 10%
(VOL) Don’t know 3%
(n) (751)

[QUESTIONS 12A & 12B WERE ROTATED]

Considering everything that the federal government is responsible for…

12A. Are Republican politicians in Washington devoting too much effort on abortion issues, not enough effort, or the right amount?

  June
2019
Too much effort 49%
Not enough effort 20%
Right amount 22%
(VOL) Don’t know 10%
(n) (751)

12B. Are Democratic politicians in Washington devoting too much effort on abortion issues, not enough effort, or the right amount?

  June
2019
Too much effort 39%
Not enough effort 27%
Right amount 24%
(VOL) Don’t know 9%
(n) (751)

[QUESTIONS 13A & 13B WERE ROTATED]

Considering everything that your state government is responsible for…

13A. Are Republican politicians in your state devoting too much effort on abortion issues, not enough effort, or the right amount?

  June
2019
Too much effort 29%
Not enough effort 20%
Right amount 34%
(VOL) Don’t know 16%
(n) (751)

13B. Are Democratic politicians in your state devoting too much effort on abortion issues, not enough effort, or the right amount?

  June
2019
Too much effort 26%
Not enough effort 23%
Right amount 36%
(VOL) Don’t know 14%
(n) (751)

[QUESTIONS 14A & 14B WERE ROTATED]

14A. Are Republican politicians in other states devoting too much effort on abortion issues, not enough effort, or the right amount?

  June
2019
Too much effort 50%
Not enough effort 14%
Right amount 18%
(VOL) Don’t know 17%
(n) (751)

14B. Are Democratic politicians in other states devoting too much effort on abortion issues, not enough effort, or the right amount?

  June
2019
Too much effort 34%
Not enough effort 26%
Right amount 22%
(VOL) Don’t know 18%
(n) (751)

[REGISTERED VOTERS ONLY: moe= +/- 3.8%]

15. How important will the issue of abortion be in your vote for president next year – will it be very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important? [If VERY IMPORTANT: Will it be the most important issue or one of several important issues?]

  June
2019
Most important 2%
Very important 32%
Somewhat important 30%
Not too important 17%
Not at all important 17%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
(n) (660)

[Q16-22 previously released.]

[Q23-30 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from June 12 to 17, 2019 with a national random sample of 751 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 301 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 450 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
25% Republican
43% Independent
32% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
31% 18-34
33% 35-54
36% 55+
 
64% White
12% Black
16% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
 
68% No degree
32% 4 year degree
  

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs