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Poll: American Public not that interested in major abortion case

For many years, one of the major tenets of faith for people on the centre left of American Politics has been that if a Conservative Supreme Court ever overturned Roe v Wade, and paved the way for new legal restrictions on abortion, then Republicans would “reap the whirlwind” of an outraged American public, and suffer a tremendous beating at the succeeding election.

That assumption has never been tested, and, of course, there is every chance it might not be. Yet, for the first time in years, there is also a very realistic chance that it will be tested, after the Supreme Court heard arguments in Dobbs v Whole Woman’s Health last week, and, to many observers, sounded just about ready to get rid of the constitutional right to an abortion.

That prospect is scary enough for American Liberals. But a new poll on the issue, released yesterday, is probably scarier still:

Far more voters say they want the Supreme Court to leave Roe v. Wade in place than not, but the issue isn’t a key motivator heading into the midterm elections, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Justices by next June are expected to decide whether to scrap the half-century-old decision underpinning abortion rights and let states chose if they want to ban the procedure early in pregnancy. Already, activists on both sides of the issue are framing the stakes for voters and pouring millions of dollars into ads, voter mobilization efforts and direct campaign donations.

Yet 42 percent of respondents to the poll said they would vote for a candidate who doesn’t align with their views on abortion, compared to 32 percent who said that the candidate’s stance will determine their vote. Another 26 percent were unsure or had no opinion on the matter.

The poll found 44 percent of those surveyed said they had heard “not much” or “nothing at all” about the case, while nearly two-thirds either said they didn’t know how likely the court was to overturn Roe or said the court isn’t likely to overturn the precedent.

The bold bits were added by me, because they sort of tell the story: As of right now, voters do not seem to care much, despite a week of hysteria on American television. And 42% of Americans would vote for a candidate who disagreed with them on abortion.

A key problem for the American left has always been that on this issue, voting patterns are almost entirely opposite to voting patterns in modern Ireland: Here, it is very difficult for a pro-life candidate to win support from voters who support legal abortions, but not very difficult for pro-legal-abortion candidates to win support from pro-lifers. That has been reversed in the United States for quite some time.

So, the Democrats fear, an abolition of Roe might not help them much at all, or punish Republicans, with voters more focused on the economy and inflation and a range of other matters.

Of course, this could still all change: The thing we are talking about has not happened yet, and the last point in bold – that many people have not heard of the case – is still a source of hope for liberals, and concern for pro-lifers. It is perfectly possible that having not heard about the case, the news on a June morning that Roe has fallen could turn a big chunk of the electorate in America into single-issue abortion voters.

But that has not happened yet, and pro-choice activists are worried about it. Which is interesting.

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