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Polls Show Voters Still Care About Inflation Over Abortion, Will That Last?

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

As we've covered, there has certainly been much chatter about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introducing the the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act, which will prohibit most abortions nationwide after 15-weeks, when science has shown that unborn children can feel pain. Where the conversation and concern lies is whether or not abortion will replace inflation as the key issue in the midterms. Democrats are certainly motivated by the issue, but they've been for some time now, that's not news. The question is whether or not more than just the base will care enough the issue for it to be what motivates them at the polls.

At the same time as news was buzzing that the legislation had inadvertently energized the Democratic base, as Matt put it, were also the release of some polls, at the national level and in various battleground states. It's worth noting that while these polls were conducted before Sen. Graham introduced his bill, their results were still in the news cycle around the same time.

When it comes to the national level, Fox News conducted a poll from September 9-12, with a write-up released on Wednesday, the day after the 15-week abortion ban was introduced. The write-up focused heavily on inflation, which voters found to be their key issue, with 19 percent saying "Inflation / Cost of living / Gas prices" was the issue most motivating them to vote. "Abortion/Roe v. Wade" came in second, at 16 percent. However, "Jobs/Economy" came in at a close third, with 15 percent of respondents choosing that issue, and it's certainly similar categorized to the first.

The poll also found that 78 percent of respondents said inflation had caused them hardship over the past six months, and a majority, at 55 percent, said inflation was "not at all" under control. 

President Joe Biden himself had a 43 percent approval rating, while 56 percent disapproved, but just 29 percent approve of his handling of inflation, while 65 percent disapprove. It's by far his worst issue. 

The poll surveyed 1,201 registered voters and had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Another poll worth highlighting is from 19th News/SurveyMonkey. Given that the poll breaks down respondents not just by "men" and "women" but also "gender non-conforming," it's clearly pretty liberal. It's still worth highlighting, though, as even that poll shows "jobs and the economy" as more important than abortion. The issue ties with "preserving democracy" as the top issue, as 24 percent say it's their main motivation for voting. Abortion was overall tied for a fourth most important issue, at 10 percent. Even amongst women, it was their third most important issues. It was one of the least important issues for men. 

That survey was conducted August 22-29, with 20,799 adults and a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point. The write-up was released on Thursday morning. 

It will certainly be interesting to see what the polls next week say. Keep in mind the polls themselves say, and not just what those coming up with the takeaways have to say. Even before the introduction of the legislation, pollsters have been trying to highlight the importance of the abortion issue to the point of making it seem even bigger than it was. Specific mentions include CBS News Battleground Tracker's poll with YouGov, and the release of FiveThirtyEight's issue survey from July, the first one out since the Dobbs v. Jackson decision was handed down.

While the write-ups bent over backwards to emphasize abortion, both of those polls found inflation to be the top issue. In the CBS/YouGov poll, abortion was the sixth most popular issue for those saying it was "very important," and it was fourth most important for that FiveThirtyEight survey. 

If it does turn out that abortion overtakes inflation and other such similar economic issues in level of importance, that may just mean that Republicans have a more important job to do when it comes to reminding voters how extreme the Democratic Party is. This includes promoting legal abortion for any reason, up until birth, without legal limit, and paid for with taxpayer dollars. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released in late June, not long after Dobbs came down, found that just 10 percent support legalized abortion until birth. 

Most Democrats, especially candidates running for office, have made it clear that they intend to pass the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which President Joe Biden will be all too happy to sign into law, even expressing a willingness to nuke the filibuster to do so. Such legislation will not just codify Roe v. Wade, but rather would expand it. The bill will also invalidate all pro-life laws passed at the state level. 

Either way, perhaps Republicans have a unique opportunity ahead of them to really work for winning the midterms. 

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