May 22, 2024 - Politics

Vanderbilt poll shows growing abortion support in Tennessee

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A narrow majority of Tennessee voters are in favor of abortion access, putting them at odds with the state's strict abortion ban, according to a new poll from Vanderbilt University.

Why it matters: The new poll results, released Wednesday, are the latest indicator that Tennesseans' views on abortion have shifted in recent years.

State of play: About 52% of Tennessee voters identified themselves as definitely or somewhat "pro-choice" in the latest Vanderbilt poll, compared to 45% in 2014.

  • John Geer, co-director of the Vanderbilt poll, said in a statement that the shift was likely driven by the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and opened the door to state abortion bans.

Zoom in: The results differed based on the respondents' political affiliations.

  • Among voters who identify themselves as "MAGA Republicans," 78% said they were somewhat or definitely "pro-life," as did 69% of "non-MAGA Republicans."
  • 93% of Democrats were somewhat or definitely "pro-choice" compared to 54% of independents.

Between the lines: A Vanderbilt poll in December found broad bipartisan support for exceptions to allow abortions in cases of rape or incest, but Republican lawmakers have resisted such measures.

A bipartisan coalition of 82% of Tennesseans support in vitro fertility treatments. Lawmakers scuttled an attempt to codify IVF protections earlier this year.

Mixed results for gun measures

Most Tennesseans continue to favor gun control legislation that would temporarily keep guns away from people who are a danger to themselves or others.

  • Although many Republican lawmakers have declared such a measure a non-starter, support among voters is at 76% statewide, with both Republicans and Democrats in favor.

Voters are split on a new law allowing teachers to carry concealed guns on school campuses, with 47% in favor and 47% against. Opinions predictably fell along partisan lines.

The intrigue: Pollsters noted a split between men and women in the latest survey.

  • For instance, 70% of women support Medicaid expansion compared to 54% of men.
  • Women are more supportive of abortion access and gun control measures, and are more likely to get a vaccine to prevent serious illness, according to the poll.

How it works: The latest Vanderbilt poll was conducted April 26-May 9 and included 1,003 registered Tennessee voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points.

Approval ratings for elected officials

  • Gov. Bill Lee: 54%
  • U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn: 46%
  • U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty: 40%
  • Tennessee Legislature: 46%
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