KFF Health Tracking Poll July 2022: Inflation Tops Voters’ Priorities, But Abortion Access Resonates For Key Voting Blocs
- In the wake of the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center to overturn Roe, abortion access has become salient among key voting groups, including the population most impacted by abortion restrictions – women between the ages of 18 and 49. Among this population, there has been a fourteen percentage point increase in the share who say abortion will be “very important” to their 2022 midterm vote (59% in February to 73% in July). In addition, six in ten women voters between 18 and 49 now say they are “more motivated” to vote because of the Supreme Court’s decision (up 19 percentage points from May when the question was asked about a scenario in which Roe was overturned based on a leaked draft opinion). The vast majority (88%) of the more motivated group of women voters between 18 and 49 say they plan on voting for candidates who will protect access to abortions.
- While abortion is a motivating issue for some groups of voters, the issue still trails inflation and gas prices (74%) as the top voting issue overall. Abortion ranks alongside other top tier issues include gun control (57%), an issue on which Congress just recently passed legislation, and health care and prescription drug costs (55%), an issue that has been debated for the past several months and has gotten recent attention by Democratic lawmakers. With inflation and gas prices as the top issue overall, and for most voting groups, it is perhaps unsurprising that the share of adults who are worried about affording household expenses has increased since the beginning of the pandemic and over the past four months in particular, with the largest increases in affording basic living expenses like food (up 14 percentage points), utilities (up 12 percentage points), and mortgage or rent (up 8 percentage points). In the past two years, the share who are worried about being able to afford gas or other transportation costs has nearly doubled, growing from 40% in February 2020 to 76% in July 2022.
- Two-thirds of the public (65%) disapprove of the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center that overturned Roe and allows individual states to decide the legality of abortion access within each state. In addition, most adults (61%) – including majorities of Democrats, independents, women between the ages of 18 and 49, and about half of those living in states with pre-Roe abortion bans or trigger laws – say want the laws in their state to guarantee access to abortion. About a quarter of the public, including more than half of Republicans (54%) say they want the laws in their states to ban abortions.
In Wake Of Supreme Court Decision, Looming Uncertainty About The Legality of Abortion Access In States
Less than one month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, nearly eight in ten (78%) U.S. adults are aware of the decision and only a small share (5%) incorrectly say that Roe v. Wade is still law. Still, about one in five (18%) U.S. adults say they are not sure whether the 1973 ruling that established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion is still the law of the land, including 18% of women ages 18-49, the group most directly affected by the ruling. Awareness of the Dobbs decision is high among Democrats, Republicans, and independents but there is a difference by age. Young adults ages 18-29, who have lived their whole lives until recently with a constitutional right to abortion, are the group most likely to say they are “not sure” whether abortion access is still guaranteed: about three in ten (27%) say they are not sure, and a small share (6%) from this group also incorrectly say Roe is still in effect.
Groups previous KFF research has identified as disproportionately impacted by the overturning of Roe are the most likely to say they are not sure if a woman still has a constitutional right to an abortion. Nearly four in ten Hispanic adults (38%) and nearly three in ten (27%) Black adults say they are not sure about the status of Roe, compared to about one in ten (11%) White adults. Similarly, adults with incomes of less than $40,000 a year are more likely to say they are not sure (32%) that Roe v. Wade has been overturned by the Supreme Court than those with higher household incomes (8%), There is a similar gap between those with (5%) and without a college degree (24%) who say they are not sure. When it comes to incorrectly stating that Roe is still the law of the land, there are no significant differences among income and education groups.
While a large majority of the public is aware that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the confusion over the ruling is further reflected in people’s lack of certainty over whether abortion is currently or will soon be banned in their state. About one-fifth of people living in states with trigger laws or pre-abortion bans say they are “not sure” whether abortion is currently or will be banned, or not, in their state. This is similar to the share of those living in states with abortion protections who also say they are “not sure” about whether abortion will be allowed in their states. At least seven in ten are aware that either abortion is or currently will be banned in their state (73%) or that abortion will not be banned in their state (72%).
Most Disapprove Of Supreme Court Decision, Want States To pAss Laws Guaranteeing Access To Abortions
Two-thirds of the public disapprove of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and giving states the ability to determine the legality of abortion within each state. Partisanship plays a strong role in attitudes, with nine in ten Democrats and seven in ten (72%) independents saying they disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision, while seven in ten (71%) Republicans approve. Majorities across gender and racial and ethnic groups also disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Now that abortion access is up to state law, six in ten (61%) U.S. adults say they want the laws in their state to guarantee abortion access. This is more than twice the share who say they want the laws in their state to ban abortion (25%). Large majorities of Democrats (83%), independents (65%), and women ages 18-49 (68%) say they want their state to pass laws guaranteeing access to abortions. On the other hand, more than half of Republicans (54%) say they want the laws in their state to ban abortion, while about a third (37%) say they want the laws in their state to guarantee access.
Half (51%) of those living in states with abortion bans or trigger laws in place say they want their state to guarantee abortion access, while one-third (32%) say they want abortions to be banned. In states where abortion access is protected, seven in ten (68%) support laws guaranteeing abortion access and one in five (22%) want the laws in their state to ban abortion. Overall, about one in eight (13%) say they don’t want their state to pass laws banning abortion nor do they want their state to pass laws guaranteeing abortion access.
Voting Issues In the Midterm Election
Inflation and rising gas prices take the top spot for voters when thinking about their midterm vote this fall, with three-quarters (74%) of registered voters saying inflation and gas prices are “very important” to their midterm vote. Abortion access (55%) is clustered with two other issues making up a second tier, including gun violence (57%) and health care and prescription drug costs (55%). Less than half of voters rank the other issues as “very important,” including the federal budget deficit (46%), climate change (39%), the COVID-19 pandemic (33%), and the war in Ukraine (28%).
Among all the issues polled, gun violence and abortion access rank highest among Democratic voters, with about eight in ten saying each is “very important” to their vote. Nearly nine in ten (89%) Republican voters say inflation and gas prices are “very important” when considering who to vote for this November, 29 percentage points higher than Democrats. Inflation and gas prices are also the top issue for independents, with more than three-fourths (77%) saying it is “very important” to their vote.
Abortion Access As A Voting Issue
Following the release of the Dobbs decision, the importance of abortion access as a midterm voting issue has increased somewhat for voters. In a shift from polling before the Roe decision, a slight majority (55%) say abortion access is important to their vote, up from 46% in February. This increase is especially prevalent among key constituencies: Democrats, Democratic women, and all women voters ages 18 to 49 – groups that largely want states to guarantee access rather than ban access. In February, half (50%) of Democrats said it was a top issue, but now, about three in four (77%) say so. Similarly, back in February, 55% of Democratic women voters said it was an important issue compared to 82% now. Three in four women of reproductive age also now cite abortion access as a very important issue to their vote, compared to 59% in February before the Dobbs decision.
Although abortion is now a more salient issue among women voters 18-49, like many other groups surveyed, inflation and gas prices also top the list of concerns for this group heading into the midterms, with 76% saying it is very important to their vote. On the other hand, six in ten Republican women voters of all ages said abortion was a “very important” voting issue for them in February, and now 44% say the same about abortion access. This change may reflect that the overturn of Roe makes “abortion” no longer a pressing issue for this group of voters, or that this group may not view “abortion access” as a very important issue.
Majorities of women of reproductive age, across partisans, say abortion is important to their vote with at least half saying it is “very important.” More than eight in ten (84%) Democratic women between the ages of 18 and 49 say abortion access is “very important” in deciding who they will vote in the fall, as do nearly three-fourths of independent women voters of the same age group. Access to abortion ranks lower for Republican women under 50, but still half say the issue is “very important.” While the issue certainly resonates more with women, majorities of all voters 18-49 across partisans say abortion access will be at least somewhat important to their midterm vote.
Overall, about half of voters (54%) say the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade has made them “more likely” to consider a candidate’s position on abortion when deciding which candidate to vote for while 3% say it has made them “less likely” and four in ten (42%) say it has not made a difference. Large majorities of Democratic voters (72%), Democratic women voters (72%), and women voters between the ages of 18 and 49 (64%) – all groups of which large majorities disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision – say the decision has made them “more likely” to consider a candidate’s position on abortion.
The latest KFF poll finds a slight uptick in the share of voters who say the decision has made them “more motivated” to vote, compared to a similar question asked prior to the final decision (but after a draft was leaked) that asked whether they would be more motivated if Roe was overturned. Forty-three percent of voters now say the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade has made them “more motivated” to vote (compared to 37% back in May). About half (53%) continue to say the decision has “not made a difference” in their motivation to vote. There are large upticks are among Democratic voters (64% compared to 55%), and there is a nearly twenty percentage point increase among women voters ages 18-49. Six in ten (61%) women voters 18-49 say the decision has made them “more motivated” to vote, compared to four in ten (42%) back in May.
The Supreme Court decision did not have a significant impact on voters’ preference on candidates they plan to vote for in the midterm elections. Eight in ten Democratic voters (83%) say they plan on voting for a candidate who wants to protect access to abortion (similar to 79% in May) as do 56% of independent voters (54% in May), while half of Republicans voters (51%) say they plan on voting for a candidate who wants to limit abortion access (56% in May). The vast majority of all voters who say they are more motivated to vote (82%) as well as women voters 18-49 who are more motivated (88%) say they plan to vote for candidates who will protect abortion access. The share of women 18-49 who say they plan on voting for a candidate who wants to protect abortion access increased 10 percentage points, from 60% to 70%.
How Do Republican Women Feel About Supreme Court Decision And Abortion Access?
The recent Supreme Court decision and state actions on abortion restrictions have split Republican women into two groups: a larger group who support the Court’s decision and want abortion to be restricted, and a smaller, yet substantial, share who disapprove of the decision to overturn Roe and want their states to guarantee access to abortion.
Two-thirds of Republican women approve of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe and about half of Republican women (51%) say they want laws in their states to ban abortion. On the other hand, one-third of Republican women disapprove of the Court’s decision and four in ten (41%) say they want the laws in their states to guarantee access to abortion.
About one in four (23%) Republican women voters say they are now more motivated to vote in the 2022 midterm election which is similar to the share (25%) who say they plan on voting for a candidate who wants to protect access to abortion. More than half (56%) of Republican women voters say they plan on voting for a candidate who wants to limit access to abortions and 17% say a candidate’s position on abortion does not make a difference in their vote.
Cost Of Gasoline Tops Public’s Economic Worries, Areas For Desired Government Action
As concerns about inflation and gas prices top voters’ priorities for the 2022 midterm election, the majority of adults in the U.S. say they are at least somewhat worried about affording a variety of household expenses. Three in four adults (76%) say they are either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about being able to afford gas and other transportation costs. More than six in ten adults also say they are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about affording unexpected medical bills (64%), their monthly utilities like electricity and heat (62%), and food (61%). Half say they are worried about affording their mortgage or rent (51%), and four in ten or more are worried about affording health care expenses like their health insurance deductibles (48%), prescription drugs (46%), and health insurance premiums (40%).
The share of adults who are worried about affording household expenses has increased since the beginning of the pandemic and over the past four months in particular, with the largest increases in affording basic living expenses like food (up 14 percentage points), utilities (up 12 percentage points), and mortgage or rent (up 8 percentage points). In the past two years, the share who are worried about being able to afford gas or other transportation costs has nearly doubled, growing from 40% in February 2020 to 76% in July 2022.
When asked to choose the area of the economy where they most want President Biden and Congress to take action, one in three adults (33%) say they want government action to address the rising cost of gas, while one in four prioritize addressing the rising cost of housing and rent (25%), and a similar share want federal attention on rising food prices (23%). Although gasoline costs are a top priority for adults across income groups, housing and food costs are more likely to be prioritized by lower-income households than those with higher incomes. More than a quarter of adults from households with less than a $40,000 annual income, as well as those in households earning between $40,000 and $89,999, say they want the federal government to address housing costs (31% and 28%), and at least one in five want federal attention on the cost of food (27% and 21%).
Republicans are about twice as likely as Democrats to say that the federal government should address the rising cost of gas (53% of Republicans vs. 23% of Democrats), while Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to want Biden and Congress to focus on rising housing and rent costs (28% of Democrats vs. 13% of Republicans) and five times as likely to prioritize lowering the cost of health insurance (15% vs. 3%).