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One in Four Americans Consider Abortion a Key Voting Issue
Politics

One in Four Americans Consider Abortion a Key Voting Issue

One in Four Americans Consider Abortion a Key Voting Issue

Story Highlights

  • 47% say abortion issue is one of many important factors to their vote
  • 24% say candidate must share abortion views; 25% say not a major issue
  • 30% of pro-life, 19% of pro-choice adults say abortion is threshold issue

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Just as Americans' general views of abortion remain mostly steady, so too are their opinions of whether it is a key voting issue for them. Nearly half of U.S. adults (47%) polled in May, before the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion, say the issue will be just one of many important factors in their vote for a candidate for a major office; 25% do not consider it a major issue. At the same time, the 24% of U.S. adults who say they will vote only for a candidate who shares their views on the issue is, along with last year, significantly higher than most other years in the trend.

Line chart. Americans' views since 1996 of the importance of abortion in their vote choice. Currently, 47% say abortion is one of many important issues, 25% say it is not a major issue and 24% say they will not vote for a candidate who does not share their view on abortion.

Gallup has periodically tracked Americans' views of the importance of abortion in their vote choice since 1996. Last year's 29% reading for those who say a candidate must share their views on abortion to win their support was the highest on record. Before that, from 1996 to 2016, the annual average was 18%.

The latest findings, from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll conducted May 1-13, show the continuation of a trend seen since 2001 whereby Americans who consider themselves to be pro-life are more likely than those who identify as pro-choice to say abortion is a threshold issue.

While these groups have placed varying degrees of importance on the abortion issue in the past, the gap in their views has widened. Currently, 30% of those in the pro-life camp and 19% in the pro-choice camp say they are single-issue voters when it comes to abortion.

Line chart. Percentages of Americans since 2001 who identify as pro-life and pro-choice and say they would vote only for a candidate who shares their views on abortion. Currently, 30% of pro-life Americans and 19% of pro-choice Americans say it is a threshold issue for them. This is the widest gap Gallup has recorded in views on this measure.

Although there is a sizable gap in views of abortion as a key election issue based on overall opinions of it, there is notably little difference between Republicans and Democrats on the same measure. Roughly half of each group say abortion is one of many important factors to their vote, about one-quarter say a candidate must share their views and more than one in five say it is not a major issue. Independents, however, are more likely than both Republicans and Democrats not to consider abortion a major issue.

Americans' Views of Abortion as a Key Voting Issue Among Partisans
Thinking about how the abortion issue might affect your vote for major offices, would you only vote for a candidate who shares your views on abortion, or consider a candidate's position on abortion as just one of many important factors, or not see abortion as a major issue?
Candidate must share views One of many important factors Not a major issue
% % %
Republicans 26 47 23
Independents 19 47 29
Democrats 27 50 21
GALLUP, May 1-13, 2020

Implications

Americans currently consider race relations, the coronavirus, the government and the economy to be the most important problems facing the U.S. Abortion is not near the top of that list; still, a core one-quarter of U.S. adults consider it to be a threshold vote issue.

Americans' overall attitudes about abortion have been mostly stable in the past decade, with roughly equal percentages considering themselves pro-choice and pro-life. Those who consider themselves pro-life are significantly more likely than their pro-choice counterparts to say they will vote only for a candidate who shares their views on abortion.

The latest Supreme Court decision, which dealt a blow to the pro-life movement, has the potential to galvanize voters. The abortion issue potentially works more to the advantage of Republicans than Democrats, given the parties' respective platforms and the greater proportion of pro-life than pro-choice voters who will vote only for candidates who share their views on the issue. However, abortion may serve to mobilize voters to turn out more than it does to influence their candidate choice, given the increasingly greater alignment of Republican and Democratic candidates with their party's position on abortion.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/313316/one-four-americans-consider-abortion-key-voting-issue.aspx
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