2022 election, abortion, Associated Press, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, economy, Edison Research, exit polls, Fox News, Im-Politic, inflation, midterms 2022, National Opinion Research Center, NPR-Marist Poll, politics, polls, Red Wave, Republicans, Roe vs. Wade, Supreme Court
At the risk of blowing my own horn, I think it’s of more-than-usual interest to report the evidence that I’ve been proven right on my prediction that the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down abortion rights, and Republican support for such efforts, would be nothing but trouble for the GOP in this year’s mid-term elections.
Indeed, the exit polls – which, to be fair, are preliminary at this point – show that public anger at the Dobbs decision, and fears of it spurring a wave of draconian state-level and even federal abortion bans, influenced voting decisions nationally and in key swing states nearly as much as resentment over the state of the economy. And this development supported, in spades, my belief that whereas before Dobbs, Democrats had little or nothing going for them as the election approached, the Supreme Court gave them something. If anything, though, I underestimated how big this “something” would be, for it appears important enough to explain by itself why the “Red Wave” widely expected didn’t materialize.
Let’s start with with a survey conducted for some major broadcast and cable news networks by Edison Research. Practically up to Election Day, polls were showing that inflation was voters’ most pressing concern, with abortion trailing far behind. For example, this NPR/PBS/Marist College sounding from late October found the margin to be 36 percent to 14 percent among adults and registered voters, and 36 percent to 11 percent among those saying they’d “definitely vote” in the contest.
In addition, respondents believed that Republicans could control inflation better than Democrats by nearly two-to-one. No wonder so many in the GOP was so optimistic.
But Edison’s exit poll found a much smaller margin for inflation’s paramount importance – just 31 percent to 27 percent for abortion.
Findings like this, however, can be of only limited value, because Americans can be concerned about various issues for different reasons. So it was smart of Edison to publish a party breakdown. And with abortion ranking as “the most important issue for your vote” by 76 percent of Democrats but only 23 percent of Republicans, the Dobbs decision and its aftermath looked like definite political losers.
Backing up this conclusion: According to Edison, 37 percent of voters viewed the overturning of the 1973 Roe vs Wade high court decision establishing a privacy-grounded right to an abortion to some extent with “enthusiasm” or “satisfaction,” while 60 percent reacted with “dissatisfaction” or “anger.” And nearly two-thirds of that 60 percent were angry.
The second major exit poll is one conducted for the Associated Press and Fox News by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. Its findings came with a major quirk. As with so many pre-election surveys, respondents ranked the “economy and jobs” as “the most important issue facing the country” by far. It claimed the top spot for 48 percent of those contacted versus just nine percent for abotion. In addition, respondents overwhelmingly (78 percent) thought the economy was in “not so good” or “poor” condition, and gave President Biden poor grades on handling this challenge.
But many more respondents (24 percent) called abortion “the single most important factor” behind their vote (versus 51 percent for the economy). And again, the decided (61 percent to 39 percent) backing for “a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide,” and the emotions registered over Roe’s demise (41 percent “happy” or ”satisfied,” 59 percent dissatisfied or angry, and 33 percent angry), demonstrate unmistakably how the issue cut politically against more powerfully than generally anticipated against Republicans. All the more so given how close so many key state and local elections were.
And speaking of these state and local elections, since especially for matters like control of Congress, what counts most are those results (particularly for the supposed swing states where the GOP saw real promise of victory), not the nation-wide findings. As I’ll show tomorrow, the state and local results, too, all but clinch the case that the Dobbs ruling dashed those Republican hopes.