After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court there has been a lot of speculation about the future of court decisions like Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey that created a right to abortion. Soon after the media jumped on several polls released after the announcement – NBC News/Survey Monkey, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Quinnipiac University that found over 60 percent of Americans did not want Roe v. Wade overturned.
Michael J. New at National Review earlier this month pointed out that support for Roe was overstated.
These polls are all misleading for several reasons. First, a significant number of Americans are unfamiliar with the Roe v. Wade decision. A Pew Research Center poll taken in 2013 found that only 62 percent of respondents were aware that Roe v. Wade dealt with abortion. Seventeen percent thought Roe v. Wade dealt with some other public-policy issue and 20 percent were unfamiliar with the decision. Furthermore, even many who realize Roe v. Wade dealt with abortion fail to understand the full implications of the decision. Many wrongly think that overturning Roe v. Wade would result in national ban on abortion, instead a reversal of Roe would return the issue to the states.
Additionally, many polling questions, including the recent questions by NBC News/Survey Monkey, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Quinnipiac University all fail to inform respondents that Roe v. Wade effectively legalized abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy and makes it difficult to place limits on late-term abortions. Historically, there has been very little public support for second-trimester or third-trimester abortions.
However, if you ask Americans what they think of court-imposed abortion policy the answers are significantly different.
McLaughlin & Associates conducted a survey commissioned by Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) of 1,000 likely general election voters nationwide between July 20–24, 2018. The margin of error for the poll is +/-3.1 percent at a 95 percent accuracy interval.
They asked voters, “Do you think that the U.S. Supreme Court should decide abortion policy for your state, or do you think abortion policy should be decided by the people through your elected representatives?”
45.3 percent of Americans said their elected officials should decide, 32.8 percent said the Supreme Court should decide, and 21.9 percent said they were unsure. Of Americans who had an opinion, 58 percent want elected officials to determine abortion policy, not the courts.
SBA List commissioned polling conducted by The Tarrance Group in five states where incumbent Democrat U.S. Senators face a tough re-election battle and have a key stake in the confirmation Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
It is eye-opening.
- 54 percent of Florida voters want abortion policy decided by the people through the legislature.
- 65 percent of Indiana voters want abortion policy decided by the people through the legislature.
- 57 percent of Missouri voters want abortion policy decided by the people through the legislature.
- 67 percent of North Dakota voters want abortion policy decided by the people through the legislature.
- 57 percent of West Virginia voters want abortion policy decided by the people through the legislature.
The multistate polling was conducted from July 5th through July 8th with at least 400 registered voters in each state (500 in Florida). The margin of error for each state is +/- 4.9 percent.
A plurality of Americans also supports the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The McLaughlin Group national poll also asked voters, “Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been nominated to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Do you believe the Senate should confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court?”
40.1 percent of Americans said no, 29.4 percent said no, and 30.4 percent were unsure.
- 56% of Florida voters want U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) to confirm the nominee.
- 56% of Indiana voters want U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) to confirm the nominee.
- 57% of Missouri voters want U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to confirm the nominee.
- 68% of North Dakota voters want U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to confirm the nominee.
- 59% of West Virginia voters want U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) to confirm the nominee.
“Americans agree it’s time to re-enfranchise the people and their representatives to legislate on abortion. For decades, activist courts have seized this power for themselves, imposing a radical agenda from the top down,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said responding to the polls. “Voters also agree Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a highly qualified nominee who deserves to be swiftly confirmed to the Supreme Court. In particular, battleground state voters who elected President Trump by overwhelming margins trusted him to nominate only originalist judges who will respect and uphold the Constitution, a key promise fulfilled in Judge Kavanaugh.”
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