TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — More than half of voters say abortion restrictions will be a deciding issue when they vote in the 2022 midterm elections. Come November, the Pew Research study found the increase of importance was mostly among Democratic voters, but the number of those voters rose nearly 30% since March.
June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal protections for abortions, therefore putting rules and regulations in a state-by-state patchwork, drew battle lines for the November elections.
According to the Pew study, 56% of registered voters on both sides of the political spectrum say abortion itself will be “very important in their midterm vote.” From the same voting group, the March proportion was 43% across both main political parties.
“Virtually all of the increase has come among Democrats: 71% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters rate abortion as very important; fewer than half (46%) said this in March,” Pew said. Republican voters’ views on abortion have remained largely unchanged, going from 41% concerned to 40% from March to August.
While abortion was high on the list of voter priorities, Pew said it was not the only item to have changed since their spring survey.
“Compared with March, larger shares say gun policy and violent crime are very important in their voting decisions,” Pew reported. “As with abortion, these increases have come largely among Democrats.”
While the Democratic Party voters are concerned with the economy in addition to social issues, Pew said Republican voters were much more focused on the economy, seeing it as the “top issue in the upcoming elections.”
Voter sentiment following the SCOTUS decision on abortion also follows immediate effects state-by-state when it comes to restrictions and legal enforcement for abortion regulations.
In Florida, already a conservative-leaning state, abortion restrictions had cleared the state legislature and governor’s office two months before the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The state’s 15-week abortion ban was signed into law in April. Despite legal challenges in Florida courts, the legislation took effect on July 1. Due to current state statutes, the decision by SCOTUS did not change any state laws or regulations.
The abortion process itself is not fully outlawed in Florida, though state politicians have indicated an interest in further restricting the procedure. Recent stories about a 17-year-old seeking an abortion who was blocked by a judge on a procedural note have added to discussion of those rights by political players.
During the lead up to Florida’s Aug. 23 primary election, Democratic candidates expressed support for the right to abortion, though candidate Nikki Fried drew attention to her opponent Charlie Crist’s record on abortion rights over the course of his decades-long political career.
The Hillsborough County Judge, Jared Smith, who blocked the teen’s abortion over a lack of parental waiver, and denied her appeal on the basis of a “lack of maturity” was voted out of office in the recent election. He will remain in office until January.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the 13th Judicial Circuit’s State Attorney, Democrat Andrew Warren in Tampa, was suspended from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis, in part due to his pledge not to prosecute abortions in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
According to Pew, “Democrats have become much more likely to say that several issues, including abortion and gun policy, are very important to their vote,” since March. “By comparison, no issue has substantially grown in importance among Republicans.”
Ninety percent of the Republican voters surveyed said the economy was very important, a 20% higher level than any other issue in the survey.