Three in five registered voters believe abortion should be legal

New ABC News/Ipsos poll shows the economy, inflation, abortion top issues ahead of midterms

The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Charlie Rollason Senior Research Analyst
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Washington, DC, October 30, 2022 -- About three in five registered voters believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and a plurality would be more likely to support a candidate for elected office who favors keeping abortion legal and available, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll. However, the economy and inflation remain the most important issues—half of registered voters cite one of these issues—in determining one’s vote for Congress next month. According to last week’s ABC News/Ipsos poll, Republicans hold an advantage over Democrats on these issues in the upcoming election.

Graphs with the headline, "The economy and inflation are most important issues overall".

Detailed Findings:

1. Half of registered voters cite the economy or inflation as their single most important issue ahead of the midterm elections. However, Democratic and Republican registered voters prioritize issues quite differently. 

  • Fifty percent of registered voters say either the economy (28%) or inflation (22%) is their single most important issue when it comes to voting for Congress in the midterms. Another 2% say gas prices.
  • This may be welcome news for Republicans as we close in on the midterms, as last week’s ABC News/Ipsos poll shows the American public and registered voters both give a double-digit advantage to Republicans on which political party they think will do a better job handling the economy, inflation, and gas prices.
  • The third most important issue for registered voters is abortion (16%).
  • When looking at registered voters by their party affiliation, however, the issue landscape looks quite fragmented. For Democratic registered voters, abortion is the single most important issue (29%), essentially tied with the number who say inflation or the economy (28% together; 15% say inflation, 13% say the economy). On the other hand, the vast majority of Republican registered voters prioritize economic issues (73% cite one of those two issues, including 45% for the economy and 28% for inflation). Half of independent registered voters (50%) also cite the economy or inflation as their single most important issue.

2. About three in five Americans, and registered voters alike, believe abortion should be legal. When looking at the potential impact on the election, a plurality – but not a majority – of registered voters would favor a candidate who keeps abortion legal over one who favors limiting abortion.

  • Sixty-one percent of Americans, and 62% of registered voters, believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
  • Most Americans are in the middle on this topic, rather than favoring complete legality or an outright ban. Thirty-four percent say abortion should be legal in most cases, and another 30% say it should be illegal in most cases. Only 7% of Americans favor an outright ban on abortion.
  • Among registered voters, nearly half (48%) say they would favor a candidate who wants to keep abortion legal and available, over one who wants to limit abortion except to protect the mother’s life (33%). Nearly one in five (18%) say the abortion issue would not matter in their vote.

3. Americans show a slight preference toward having the same political party controlling the executive and legislative branches, but most don’t care one way or the other.

  • As the country waits to see if Congress will move from Democratic to Republican control, more Americans feel it is better to have a president who comes from the same party as the one who controls Congress (29%) rather than split control (19%).
  • Yet for half of Americans, it does not make a difference whether there is gridlock in the federal government or not. Those who identify as independents, as well as Americans under age 50 and Black and Hispanic Americans are all more likely to say it makes no difference to them which party, or parties, control these two branches of government.

About the Study

This ABC News/Ipsos Poll was conducted October 28 to October 29, 2022 by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 729 general population adults age 18 or older with small oversamples among Black and Hispanic respondents. A total of 621 registered voters were interviewed.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The study was conducted in both English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, and party identification, race/ethnicity by gender, race/ethnicity by age, and race/ethnicity by education. The demographic benchmarks came from 2021 Current Population Survey (CPS) from the US Census Bureau. Party ID benchmarks came from recent ABC News/Washington Post telephone polls. The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Something else)
  • Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Gender (Male, Female)
  • Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Age (18-44, 45+)
  • Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Education (Some College or less, Bachelor and beyond)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.17. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the registered voter’s sample. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.17. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. Sampling error is only one potential source of error. There may be other unmeasured non-sampling error in this or any poll. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

This topline includes trended data from two previous ABC News/Ipsos studies, conducted by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. The first study was conducted June 3-4, 2022 and includes a nationally representative probability sample of 542 U.S. adults. The second study was conducted August 5-6, 2022 and includes a nationally representative probability sample of 665 U.S. adults. In the June 2022 study, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.29. In the August 2022 study, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.19. More information on the June 2022 study can be found here. More information on the August 2022 study can be found here.

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The author(s)

  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Charlie Rollason Senior Research Analyst

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