Abortion matters in California’s 2022 election, poll finds

A move to amend the state Constitution to add protections to abortion rights appears on track for victory this fall, as the issue of reproductive rights appears to be strongly motivating voters in the state.

A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released Wednesday showed that 7 in 10 California voters support the proposed constitutional amendment and the majority support other policies aimed at protecting abortion rights.

Voters’ strong beliefs on the issue look likely to bolster Democrats’ electoral fortunes in the state in November.

Eight in 10 voters called abortion an important issue as they decide how to vote in congressional, state and local races in November, with 63% describing the issue as “very important.”

Among Democrats, 77% said abortion was “very important” ahead of Election Day, according to the poll, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. Forty-three percent of Republicans gave abortion the same priority.

That could have a significant impact on racing in the state this fall, said Berkeley poll director Mark DiCamillo.

“In terms of turnout and what that might mean for the November election, I think the abortion issue is a motivation for Democratic and Liberal voters to come to California,” DiCamillo said.

California has several hotly contested congressional races this year, including contests in North Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Central Valley. Democrats hope strong turnout from their supporters will help them win tight contests in the state that could make up for lost seats elsewhere in the country.

Abortion will not only be a priority for many voters, it will also appear directly on the ballot. Proposition 1 asks voters to protect a person’s right to an abortion by including it in the state constitution. The Democratic-controlled state legislature voted in June to put the proposal on the ballot in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that gave the country’s women the legal right to choose abortion.

The poll found support for Proposition 1 in all geographies of California, with strong approval regardless of age, race or gender.

The only clear split on the measure came along partisan lines, with opposing Republican voters 49% to 35%. Among voters who described themselves as strongly conservative, only 23% approved of the ballot measure, while 66% disagreed and 11% remained undecided.

Overall, however, conservatives are a minority in California — 28% of voters in the state identify themselves that way, with just 12% saying they are very conservative. Voters who identify as liberal or moderate largely support the proposed amendment.

The latest voter registration figures show Democrats make up 47% of the state’s roughly 22 million registered voters, while Republicans are at 24%, barely ahead of nonpartisan voters at 23%.

“Republicans and Democrats have very different views on the importance of abortion and how they intend to vote on Proposition 1,” DiCamillo said. “Throughout the poll, you can see this big chasm between Democratic and Republican responses.”

If passed by a majority of voters in November, Proposition 1 would further protect the state’s progressive reproductive rights laws, which grant everyone of childbearing age “the fundamental right to choose whether to bear a child or to choose and obtain an abortion”. Currently, those rights in California are blocked by case law and statute, but supporters have said attacks on abortion access necessitate additional safeguards in the state Constitution.

California laws allow a woman to have an abortion until a physician determines “there is a reasonable probability of the fetus surviving sustainably outside the womb without the application of extraordinary medical measures” or the procedure is necessary to “protect the life or health of the woman. In most cases, doctors considered a fetus viable at 24 weeks.

Two-thirds of voters said they disapproved of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion decisions to the states. This sentiment is strongly shaped by ideology. Of those who describe themselves as very liberal, 95% say they strongly disagree with the High Court’s decision; among those who say they are very conservative, 10% disagree.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, California Democratic lawmakers introduced more than a dozen bills and added $200 million to the budget to increase access to abortions in the state, including for those traveling to California from parts of the country where the procedure is prohibited.

Governor Gavin Newsom said the efforts will strengthen “California’s status as a reproductive safe haven for women.”

Of those polled, 65% said they support new laws that would help women from other states get abortions in California. Half of voters said they strongly support these efforts. Less than a quarter of Republicans supported legislative fixes, with 70% saying they disagreed with new laws helping women in other states get abortions.

Regardless of geographic region, the majority of voters said they supported California offering aid to women in other states, with support ranging from 54% in the Inland Empire to 75% in the Bay Area. from San Francisco.

A large majority of voters said the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade worries them that judges might reconsider other rulings, such as those protecting birth control and same-sex marriage.

Overall, two-thirds of voters said it was concerning, with the issue again producing a wide partisan divide. Among those who describe themselves as strongly conservative, 13% say they are very concerned about possible future decisions, while 88% of strongly liberal voters feel the same way.

“I’m not sure you could be more lopsided in the polls,” DiCamillo said.

The poll was conducted online in English and Spanish between Aug. 9 and Aug. 15 among 9,254 registered voters in California. The estimated margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Los Angeles Times

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