Bench Memos

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Overturning Roe


After a brief education about what Roe v. Wade really means, public support for overturning Roe and restoring abortion policy to the democratic processes dramatically increases.  That’s what a recent poll jointly commissioned by the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Judicial Confirmation Network shows.  This memo by JCN’s (and Bench Memos’) Wendy Long and me discusses highlights of the poll, which include:


1.  With even a brief education about what Roe really means, public opinion on overturning Roe swung a full 16 points in the direction favoring the reversal of Roe:  from 55 to 34 percent against overturning Roe to 48 to 43 percent against. 


2.  At the beginning of the survey, Republicans favored the overturning of Roe by 60 to 32 percent.  By the end of the survey, that already whopping margin had increased to 67 to 29 percent.


3.  The swing among Democratic voters was especially marked:  26 points in the direction of favoring a reversal of Roe.


4.  Voters in red states (Democrats, Republicans, and independents) initially opposed the overturning of Roe by 50 to 39 percent.  By the end of the survey, they favored the overturning of Roe by 47 to 44 percent.


5.  A substantial majority of Americans—well in excess of 60%—believe that abortion should be illegal in the very circumstances that actually account for well over 90% of this country’s abortions. 


In the face of more than three decades of media misrepresentation about what Roe means and what overturning it would mean, these numbers are very striking.  As Wendy and I point out, if the brief (and understated) comments of an anonymous surveyor could trigger the changes outlined in points 1 through 4, imagine what a sustained public education campaign on these matters could achieve. 


Here are the poll results and a summary memo from the highly respected national public-affairs firm of Ayres, McHenry & Associates that conducted the poll.

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