The United States Supreme Court decided in June to overturn the landmark ruling, which federally guaranteed access to abortion. The decision is expected to lead to abortion bans in around half of U.S. states.
Although the decision does not affect abortion access in Washington, based on participants’ responses, the issue could turn out to be a major factor in the upcoming midterm elections. When adults were polled about which issues were most important to them, abortion came in first, making up 28% of responses.
Of the adults who responded, 63% said they opposed the Supreme Court’s decision, while 26% said they supported it. Around 11% said they were unsure how they felt about the ruling.
Breaking responses down by party, 57% of Republicans supported the decision while 85% of Democrats expressed opposition.
Advocates on both sides of the issue told KING 5 they are not surprised by the WA Poll results, but what is intriguing is the percentage of people who are "unsure" or who do not have a firm stance at this time.
“If people are, are asking good questions and learning things that might in some way change their mind about abortion," said Brad Payne, of the Family Policy Institute of Washington State. "I don't expect them to change dramatically, but there might be a slight shift.”
Working to keep current abortion rights in Washington state, Kim Clark, of Legal Voice, said the issue is "incredibly important for the midterms."
A relative majority of Independents, a key demographic of voters, also expressed strong opposition to the ruling, which analysts believe could be an opening for Democrats.
“I’ve always believed that elections are won and lost in the middle, among the moderates, among the independents,” former Washington governor, U.S. Commerce Secretary under the Obama administration and KING 5 political analyst Gary Locke said. “Certainly, both candidates will have to address the concerns, the everyday concerns of those independents, the undecideds, the moderates.”
KING 5 political analyst and former press secretary for George W. Bush Scott McClellan also expressed that abortion rights are an opportunity for Democratic candidates to sway some voters in the upcoming election.
“There is opportunity there among swing voters to generate some support on top of your base on the Democratic side just on the issue of abortion alone,” McClellan said. “I think Democratic candidates will want to keep that issue front and center as much as possible.”
While 43% of adults polled say they do support state leaders' efforts to help people in other states get abortions in Washington - a total of 37% are unsure or only somewhat oppose or support those efforts.
“I think that it will become very clear very quickly, the devastating impacts that these types of abortion bans have," said Kim Clark, of Legal Voice.
Clark referred to trigger bans that will go into effect in nearby states such as Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights think tank, twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion because Roe v. Wade was overturned.
"States like Washington really do need to do everything we can, in order to ensure access to care, as folks in Washington see providers in other states being criminalized for offering abortion care," Clark said.
The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and was conducted by SurveyUSA. It surveyed 825 adults from July 6-10, 2022. Of those adults, 731 were registered voters. The poll represented the demographics of Washington state with 47% from the metro Seattle area, 32% from western Washington and 21% from eastern Washington.