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Blog Post · August 3, 2022

Abortion May Emerge as a Key Issue in California’s Midterm Elections

photo - People Voting at Polling Place

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade, access to abortion across states has shifted dramatically, with some states implementing bans while other are protecting access. In one early test of voter sentiment on Tuesday night, voters in Kansas decided to keep abortion legal in the state by rejecting a proposed state constitutional amendment. This decision—and the wide margin of defeat for the amendment—has led to much discussion about the role of abortion access in the upcoming midterm elections.

Californians have long opposed overturning Roe v. Wade. In our July survey, most Californians (68%) and likely voters (70%) disapproved of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Disapproval was widespread, with six in ten or more Californians across parties, regions, and demographic groups disapproving—except among Republicans, the majority of whom approved of the decision.

After the Supreme Court decision, the California Legislature passed a constitutional amendment (Proposition 1 on the November ballot) that would—if voters approve the measure in the fall—establish the right to abortion and contraception in the state constitution.

Most likely voters (73%) support the idea of a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the state from denying or interfering with an individual's reproductive freedom, including the right to choose to have an abortion and the right to choose or refuse contraceptives. Most Democratic and independent likely voters support this proposal, while more than half of Republicans are opposed. Across regions and demographic groups, more than six in ten likely voters support the constitutional amendment. Notably, at least two in three men and women likely voters—as well likely voters across racial/ethnic groups—support this effort to protect individuals’ reproductive freedom. (It should be noted that we did not ask about Proposition 1 itself, since the ballot label and summary were not available at the time, but rather read a brief description of the proposition).

The Supreme Court decision and results from state ballot measures like the one in Kansas could elevate the role of abortion in the upcoming midterm elections. In our May survey, prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned, 58% of likely voters preferred a candidate who wanted to keep Roe v. Wade in place. Almost eight in ten Democratic likely voters preferred a candidate who would keep Roe v. Wade in place, compared to slightly over half of independents and less than three in ten Republicans.

As Californians prepare to vote in November, reproductive rights and other prominent issues will no doubt be on their minds as they decide which candidates to support and how to vote on state ballot measures. Stay tuned to the PPIC Statewide Survey in the lead up to the midterm election as we continue to track the views and policy preferences of Californians.


abortion California State Legislature elections Political Landscape Statewide Survey US Supreme Court voters