Apr 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Focus groups: Swing voters aren't buying Trump's abortion stance

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About half of Pennsylvania swing voters said presidential candidate's stances on abortion will influence how they vote in the fall, according to our latest Engagious/Sago focus groups.

Why it matters: Interviews with 11 voters who swung from former President Trump in 2016 to President Biden in 2020 suggest the security of access to abortion will determine who they support in November.

  • Frustrated with both Trump and Biden, most participants — six — said they would take Robert F. Kennedy Jr. over either of the presumptive nominees.

But participants said they still need to hear more about Kennedy's views on abortion.

  • "If he doesn't agree with what I agree with abortion, then I'm going to switch," said Michael W.
  • "Among pro-choice swing voters who would vote for RFK Jr., some seemed to second-guess their support when confronted with the argument that a vote for Kennedy is effectively a vote for Trump and his abortion policies," said Rich Thau, president of Engagious, who moderated the focus groups.

Zoom out: Trump said Wednesday he wouldn't sign a national abortion ban if it were approved by Congress days after stating that abortion access should be determined by states rather than on the national level.

  • The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a near-total abortion ban, with exceptions only to save the mother's life.
  • A number of Republicans, including Trump, have come out opposing the ban, calling it too strict.

Zoom in: Axios sat in on two Engagious/Sago online focus groups Tuesday night with Pennsylvanians who voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. Four are Democrats, three are Republicans and four are independents.

  • A focus group is not a statistically significant sample like a poll, but the responses show how some voters are thinking and talking about current events.
  • Participants watched a snippet of a video clip from Trump saying he supports letting states decide their own direction on abortion.

What they're saying: Only one participant favors Trump's decision to leave abortion policy to individual states.

  • "You're going to lose all doctors and they're going to go where they could treat their patients, it doesn't make sense to have it in every single state be different," said Lisa H.
  • "It's going to cost us more money. It's going to cause us more stress. It's just not convenient in the end," said Naomi M.

The bottom line: If the election were today, most participants said they would not choose Trump.

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