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Poll: Majorities oppose Supreme Court's abortion ruling and worry about other rights

Abortion rights activists rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court after the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday. A poll taken after the decision showed 56% disapprove of it.
Mandel Ngan
AFP via Getty Images
Abortion rights activists rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court after the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday. A poll taken after the decision showed 56% disapprove of it.

Majorities of Americans say they disagree with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, think it was politically motivated, are concerned the court will now reconsider rulings that protect other rights, and are more likely to vote for a candidate this fall who would restore the right to an abortion, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Still, a majority opposes expanding the number of justices who could sit on the Supreme Court.

In overturning Roe on Friday, the Supreme Court reversed 50 years of precedent that had made abortion a right in this country. The right to regulate abortion now is in states' hands, and about half the states have already moved to severely curtail access to an abortion or ban the procedure outright.


The issue is personal to most Americans. Two-thirds of people responding to the poll say they or someone they know has had an abortion. That was true of three-quarters of independents, 7-in-10 Democrats and 55% of Republicans.

Surveys have for years shown consistently that most Americans wanted to keep Roe in place and to see restrictions on when abortions could take place. What the court did is clearly outside the mainstream of public opinion, and that is reflected again in the NPR poll.

The survey of 941 respondents, conducted Friday after the decision through Saturday, has a margin of error of +/-4.9 percentage points.

A majority are against the decision

By a 56%-to-40% margin, respondents oppose the court's decision, including 45% who strongly oppose it.

Almost 9-in-10 Democrats and a slim majority of independents (53%) are against the decision. Three-quarters of Republicans, on the other hand, support it.

There is a massive split by education – 69% of college graduates oppose the decision while those without degrees are split. Half of whites without degrees support the decision, while two-thirds of whites with college degrees oppose it.

A majority of men and women are against the decision, though a slightly higher percentage of women oppose it (59% vs. 54%).

Along racial lines, 60% of non-whites and 54% of whites oppose the decision. (There were too few people surveyed to break out individual racial groups any further without margins of error getting too high.)

By a 57%-to-36% margin, respondents said the decision was mostly based on politics as opposed to the law. And by a 56%-to-41% margin are concerned that the overturning of Roe will be used by the Supreme Court to reconsider past rulings that protect contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.

Confidence in the Supreme Court is on the decline

Just 39% said they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the Supreme Court; 58% said they have not very much or no confidence at all in the institution. That's a low in the poll.

But few want to change the size of the court in the wake of the decision. Only a third of respondents said they were in favor of expanding the Supreme Court; 54% percent said they oppose that move.

Sixty-two percent of Democrats said they are in favor of doing so, but 57% of independents and nearly 9-in-10 Republicans were opposed.

People are more likely to vote now – particularly Democrats

This issue presents volatility into the 2022 midterms, because 78% of Democrats say the court's decision makes them more likely to vote this fall, 24 points higher than Republicans.

A bare majority of 51% say they would definitely vote for a candidate who would support a federal law to restore the right to an abortion, while 36% would definitely vote against such a candidate.

That could be a shot in the arm for Democrats if they mobilize around this issue, though Republicans are still favored at this point to take back the House this fall because of high inflation and gas prices.

Democrats have regained the favor of voters to control Congress, with 48% saying they are more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate in the fall and 41% more likely to vote for a Republican. In April, Republicans led on that question in the poll 47% to 44%, which was within the margin of error. However, the lead for Democrats may not translate into maintaining control due to the way voters are geographically distributed and how boundaries of congressional districts are drawn.

President Biden gets a 40% approval rating, while 53% disapprove of the job he is doing.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.