May 4, 2022 - Politics

Poll: Most Texans oppose an abortion ban

Data: UT/Texas Politics Project Poll; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

A near total abortion ban in Texas is likely around the corner, but a new poll shows a majority of voters — 54% — oppose it.

Driving the news: The U.S. Supreme Court privately voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion decision, per a draft document obtained by Politico on Monday.

  • Such a ruling would leave it up to states to decide how to govern the procedure, and Texas is one of 13 states with a so-called "trigger law" that would make performing an abortion a felony within 30 days of a SCOTUS judgment.

The big picture: Just over one-third of registered voters would support such a ban, the poll from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas found.

  • State Democrats overwhelmingly oppose banning access to abortion — while Texas Republicans generally favor such a move.
  • The findings are similar to nationwide polling that shows a majority of Americans support abortion rights. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last week found that 54% of Americans think the Roe decision should be upheld, while 28% say it should be overturned.

By the numbers: The survey, conducted April 14-22 and released Wednesday, found little change in the existing pattern of responses to the question: "Do you support or oppose automatically banning all abortions in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?"

  • Among all registered voters, 35% support banning abortion and 54% do not.
  • 80% of Democrats oppose banning access to abortion in Texas, per the poll.
  • Republican opinion on the question isn't as lopsided: 57% support a complete ban, and 34% oppose the move.

Flashback: Despite voters' views on an abortion ban, Texas lawmakers effectively made the procedure illegal after six weeks last fall — well before many know they are pregnant.

What they're saying: Overturning Roe would certainly bring the topic of abortion to the forefront of the 2022 campaign trail, particularly in the race between Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic nominee Beto O'Rourke, James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, told Axios.

  • "It's far from guaranteed that this will totally shift the election agenda — the issues that are currently most salient, especially the economy, aren't going to just disappear," Henson said. He added that O'Rourke will be able to mobilize his own party and independents, who oppose a ban by 57%.
  • Meanwhile, Abbott will be in a "tricky position," given that a ban is not as widely accepted by his party, Henson said: "It's not a great issue to make the centerpiece of a campaign."

Of note: In the roughly 24 hours after news of the SCOTUS draft opinion broke, Abbott took to Twitter to praise school teachers, endorse small businesses, and talk about the border — but was mum about the big abortion news.

What's next: The Supreme Court's ruling could come down in June.

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