Majority oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, but also oppose expanding number of Supreme Court justices: poll

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Most Americans disagree with the move by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the nearly half century old landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, according to a national poll conducted after the Friday morning blockbuster news from the high court.

A NPR/PBS NewsHour Marist survey also indicates that the Supreme Court’s decision to send the issue of abortion back to the states may motivate more Democrats than Republicans to vote in November’s midterm elections, when the Democrats will be defending their razor-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate.

The poll also suggests; however, most Americans oppose expanding the number of justices who sit on the Supreme Court, which many on the left have pushed for in recent years.

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By a 56%-40% margin, those questioned in the poll said they opposed the Supreme Court ruling, including 45% who strongly opposed it.

People attend an abortion-rights protest at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Friday, June 24, 2022

People attend an abortion-rights protest at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Friday, June 24, 2022 (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Nearly nine in 10 Democrats opposed the ruling, with just over three-quarters of Republicans supporting it. Independents opposed the decision by a 53%-41% margin.

The poll points to a striking educational divide.

“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,” the Marist release highlighted.

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Fifty-seven percent questioned said the decision was mostly based on politics rather than the law. And by a 56%-41% margin, Americans are concerned that overturning Roe v. Wade will be used by the conservative majority on the high court to reconsider previous rulings that protect same-sex marriage and contraception. Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday, in a concurring opinion, suggested the court should reconsider other key decisions, including the 2015 case establishing the right to same-sex marriage.

A major question going forward is whether the Supreme Court abortion ruling will dramatically alter the current political landscape and upend the midterm elections.

Democrats face historical headwinds and a bruising political climate fueled by soaring inflation, rising crime, and a well-publicized southern border crisis, which are epitomized by President Joe Biden’s flagging approval ratings, as they try to retain the razor-thin House and Senate majorities. 

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However, party strategists see a silver lining in the seismic overturning of Roe v. Wade and the returning the issue of legalized abortion to state legislatures. It may offer Democrats a chance to alter the campaign conversation, energize the left-leaning base, and win back key female and suburban voters who helped the Democrats win back the House in 2018 but appeared to cross party lines in some 2020 congressional contests and again in GOP victories in elections in Virginia and New Jersey last November.

According to the poll, 78% of Democrats say the court’s decision makes them more likely to vote in the fall, 24 points higher than Republicans.

The Marist release also highlighted that “51% of voters nationally say the Supreme Court’s decision will make them more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who would back a law that would restore the protections of Roe. 36% would definitely vote against a candidate with that intent, and 13% are unsure. Among independents, a plurality (47%) would vote for a candidate who would restore the protections of Roe. 38% of independents think they will definitely vote against such a candidate.”

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The Supreme Court fueled renewed calls by some on the left to increase the number of Supreme Court justices, to blunt the court’s current 6-3 conservative majority. However, the poll indicates that a majority of Americans — 54% — don’t want to expand the number of justices.

The Marist College poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday — after the high court ruling — with 941 adults nationwide questioned. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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