RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The unprecedented leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion has thrown abortion rights back in the spotlight of American politics. The document signaled that the court's conservative majority is ready to strike down Roe v. Wade. Now the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds that about two-thirds of Americans want to keep Roe v. Wade in place. It made abortion legal in the United States nearly five decades ago. For more on the survey, we spoke with NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Roughly two-thirds - 64% - of Americans say they do not support overturning Roe v. Wade, but 68% are in favor of some degree of restrictions on abortion rights. That includes a slim majority of Democrats. Which restrictions, though, draw some differences of opinion. About 6 in 10 think abortion should be allowed at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Others believe it only should be legal in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the pregnant person is at stake. But only 9% think it shouldn't be allowed under any circumstance.
When we looked at some of what's being considered in the states, we found that people are largely in favor of providing safe havens for those seeking abortions from out of state. People don't want to let private citizens sue abortion providers, and it's very unpopular to make abortion a crime. Respondents are split, though, when it comes to a 15-week ban and the mailing of abortion-inducing pills.
MARTIN: What does the survey say about how this leak out of the court could affect midterm elections? I mean, does either party come away with any kind of advantage?
MONTANARO: They do. Democrats are seeing a bit of an advantage. We should note, though, that the draft decision could differ from how the court ultimately rules. For now, Democrats have the edge, not just because most people want - don't want Roe overturned, but also because when it comes to the contents of the leak, 66% of Democrats say it makes them more likely to vote. Compare that to just 40% of Republicans who said so.
Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll, thinks that's a big deal.
LEE MIRINGOFF: It definitely has them focused as no other issue in the recent months has. And to have a gap of that magnitude over the Republicans is something that, you know, at this point, should not go unnoticed.
MONTANARO: Also, we saw a reversal from last month on who people said they would choose to vote for if the election were held today. Forty-seven percent said they'd choose a Democrat, 42% said a Republican. That's a net eight-point boost for Democrats from last month. Of course, this is nationally, not in the battleground districts, where Democrats acknowledge Republicans have the advantage right now.
MARTIN: So then you have to ask, will Democratic voters stay animated? I mean, it's one thing to be really exercised about this in the moment, but does that animation carry over into November?
MONTANARO: Yeah, it's a key question. President Biden got a bounce after his State of the Union address, but that receded. I asked Miringoff if he sees anything in this that could make this more long-lasting or not.
MIRINGOFF: My sense of it is that this is not going to be one of those issues that shows up and vanishes soon thereafter because so many of the states are going to then have a key decision-making role in what the policy is within their jurisdiction.
MONTANARO: Now, what we know for sure is that abortion is a potentially huge wildcard in this election. We'll see what the Supreme Court actually decides. But right now, the leak is, at least in the short run, firing up Democrats.
MARTIN: NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, thank you.
MONTANARO: Hey, you're welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.