According to polls released throughout August, the largest emerging issue affecting how Californians will vote this November is abortion, with many zeroing in on Proposition 1 as a significant reason for higher turnout.
Earlier this year, the issue of abortion wasn’t even registering on many issue polls, with the economy, COVID-19, and healthcare being the primary worries nationwide, and California also showing affordable housing and crime as top issues. However, that changed in June following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. As California moved forward with abortion sanctuary state policies. Democrats also introduced Proposition 1 for the November ballot, which would “prohibit the state from interfering with or denying an individual’s reproductive freedom – defined to “include a right to an abortion and a right to contraceptives” – other states pushed forward on trigger laws barring the practice from their state.
Governor Gavin Newsom personally targeted many states, including Texas and Georgia, for their abortion ban stances in the ensuing months, pushing the issue even further into the public eye. All of this had a gigantic ripple effect on voters. Nationally, abortion saw a sharp rise as a top issue for the mid-term elections. In a Pew Research Poll this month on issues very important for voters, abortion went up a full 13 points from March, becoming a dominant issue and being roughly as important as gun policy and crime. But, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) poll released late last week, 81% of Californian voters list it as a very important issue, a full 25% higher than the national rate and 4 points ahead of the leading national issue, the economy.
On Prop 1, the IGS poll also finds that 71% of Californians are for it, with only 18% opposing it and the rest undecided. Even those who identify as “somewhat conservative” in the ideological part of the poll tended to be more in favor of the proposition, with 41% in favor and 39% not in favor.
“The findings show that the majority of California voters disagree with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling and approve of measures that would help to safeguard women’s rights in the state,” noted IGS Co-Director G. Cristina Mora.
A PPIC poll on Californian voters thoughts on the overturning of Roe v. Wade made earlier this month is largely in line with the IGS poll. PPIC found that 70% of Californians disapproved of the overturning, with even places such as the Inland Empire and Orange County sowing less than 40% approval of the overturning amongst voters.
Abortion and the 2022 mid-terms in California
With such numbers out just before the big election season ramp-up in September, many election experts have noted that the abortion issue will be driving many voters in the polls come November.
“So, you have a lot of voters in California who are now more passionate than ever on abortion, either for or against,” said Edgar Miller, a polling reviewer and consultant in Los Angeles, to the Globe on Monday. “That was already driving more people to vote in the mid-terms. But now with Prop 1 also on the ballot, a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t vote are likely coming up. We saw it happen in 2020 with many passionate for either Trump or Biden, and that going down to other races.”
“While the mid-terms always bring more people out to vote, with LA in particular likely to see a bigger turnout due to the Mayoral race there, Prop 1 and the issue of abortion is going to bring a quick spike, with people both for or against coming out. For Democrats, this is welcome news, as California holds several House elections that are on the bubble that could be the deciding factor for them. Some state elections too, especially in Southern California.”
“For the GOP, a bump in voters who are for abortion could hurt them. Now, they’re still on track to win the House overall, but the red tide many were expecting may only be more of a ripple. Crime and the economy still play pretty well, especially in larger cities for crime, so abortion won’t be the only factor for the vast majority of voters. And let’s not forget it is not even September yet. A big new issue could arise in the next few months. Plus, don’t count out Joe Biden’s unpopularity. Majority of Americans still disapprove of him, and in California, a state you would think would love him, his head is barely above water right now with only the thinnest amount of approval over disapproval.”
“So abortion will be a big issue and could cause some impact, but it is by no means a sole factor on elections this November.”
More polls over abortion and where it stands on important issues are expected to come out in September.
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