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Poll Offers What Could Be Valuable Lesson for Republicans on Abortion in 2024

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Abortion has been something of a messy issue for Republicans since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with last year's Dobbs v. Jackson decision. While Republicans are divided on how much to involve the federal government, Democrats are united on supporting abortion up until birth for any reason without legal limit, at least when it comes to those in elected office. One of the key takeaways of the latest Cygnal poll points to how 70 percent of registered voters want some sort of restrictions on abortion. Just 17.4 percent support abortion being legal up until birth, though that includes 30 percent of Democratic respondents.


The abortion issue was just one of many aspects discussed in the poll, which also looked to a hypothetical matchup between former and potentially future President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. The latter leads ever so slightly, with 45.46 percent support compared to Trump's 44.3 percent. The amount of undecided voters is at 10.1 percent. Another takeaway of the poll, however, points to Trump leading among Independent voters. 

Nevertheless, Trump may be the Republican Party's best chance, as Biden has a more sizable lead against a Republican other than Trump, leading with 42.7 percent support to the unnamed candidate's 38.2 percent. Many more, at 19.1 percent, are undecided.

For the abortion question, respondents were given five options to choose from, other than the "unsure" option. A plurality, at 21 percent, say that abortion "should be limited after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has proposed a federal bill with such a gestational limit, when unborn children can feel pain and at which point the procedure becomes increasingly dangerous for the woman.

Not far behind is the option that "abortion should be illegal," at 19.1 percent. Just 17.4 percent believe "abortion should be completely legal until birth," while 16.8 percent choose a 12-week limit--which is the first trimester--and 16.6 percent say 6-weeks. It's at that 6-week mark that a fetal heartbeat is detectable.


The poll's "Insights & Analysis" highlights the party breakdown further in that "27% of Republicans think it should be completely illegal. 30% of Democrats think it should be legal until birth, and 72% of Independents believe abortion should be limited after 15 weeks or before."

In a statement for Townhall, Pollster and Director of Political Strategy Mitch Brown highlighted key issues about how to frame the abortion issue. 

"The media discussion about abortion has become untethered from the reality of what people actually think. The pundit class and Democrats say that Republicans are extreme for passing heartbeat laws. However, that is not extreme; that is actually closer to common ground," he said. "The vast majority of voters, more than 70 percent, say they want to see some form of abortion restrictions. If Republicans want to gain ground and shift the narrative about abortion, they need to communicate just how extreme Democrats are on the issue, especially when a staggering 30 percent of Democrats say they support abortion up to birth."

Democrats have pushed for the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would actually expand the Roe decision and invalidate state pro-life laws on the books. It was reintroduced earlier this year and has vocal support from the Biden White House, which claims the bill would merely codify Roe v. Wade.


It's worth noting that the poll also looked to which political party respondents consider to be more extreme. A plurality, at 44.9 percent, say that the Democratic Party is more extreme, with 39.2 percent saying as much about the Republican Party. The poll's "Insight & Analysis" also hones in on what respondents say about their own party, in that this is "counting over 1/3 of Democrats thinking that of their own party. In comparison, only 24% of Republicans believe that of theirs."

The trends show that there's been an upward shift in respondents considering the Democratic Party to be more extreme since the poll from last month.

The issue of heartbeat bills came up during Trump's interview with Kristen Welker, the new anchor for NBC News' "Meet the Press," which aired on Sunday, shortly after the poll was released. Trump called Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) decision to sign a heartbeat bill into law "a terrible thing and a terrible mistake." DeSantis is currently in second place behind Trump according to the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average, with 12.7 percent support to Trump's 56.6 percent. 

The comments caught the attention of the DeSantis War Room which lambasted Trump for saying "he will compromise with Democrats on abortion so that they're nice to him."


Other key takeaways of the poll included how a plurality of respondents, at 44.8 percent, believe that the evidence against Biden is impeachable; 60.7 percent believe the country is on the wrong track; 41 percent hold a "very unfavorable" view of Biden; and 69.5 percent of respondents have an unfavorable view of Communist China.

The generic ballot is also more right-leaning now, with 45.6 percent of respondents favoring Republicans compared to 44.3 percent support for Democrats. The poll's "Insight & Analysis" notes that Democrats have been "dropping -1 since
August and Republicans gaining ground with independents (+4). For context, 2020 ended up around D+5 nationally."

The poll was conducted September 4-6 with 2,000 registered voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.16 percentage points. Some notable findings about the demographics included how a plurality of respondents, at 32.3 percent, consider themselves to be "moderate" on the political spectrum. A slight plurality, at 25.4 percent, consider themselves to be "strongly Democratic" while 21.4 percent say they're "strongly Republican." Twenty-two percent answered they were Independent.


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