The Complicated Importance Of Abortion To Trump Voters As Americans think about recession, a pandemic, racial justice, climate change and policing, many Trump voters (or potential Trump voters) bring up abortion in explaining their voting rationale.
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The Complicated Importance Of Abortion To Trump Voters

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The Complicated Importance Of Abortion To Trump Voters

The Complicated Importance Of Abortion To Trump Voters

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As we've heard, abortion is sure to come up in Judge Barrett's confirmation hearing. So how big of an issue is it this election season? NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben has been talking with Trump voters who say abortion as a political issue this year is complicated.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Mary Ludwig is from Watertown, in the battleground state of Wisconsin, and she knows exactly how she'll vote in November.

MARY LUDWIG: I always vote Republican because I'm so against abortion.

KURTZLEBEN: Ludwig has things she likes about Donald Trump. She really likes his kids and thinks he's handling the economy well. And she has reservations. As she puts it, he says, quote, "things that are offensive," but she simply deeply cares about abortion, and Trump often speaks out against abortion rights.

LUDWIG: Well, I'm a mother. I birthed three children, and the feeling of life in me is real at conception.

KURTZLEBEN: This kind of view isn't unusual. All the voter interviews in the story were done before Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. And even then, Trump voters and potential Trump voters, over and over again, brought up the topic of abortion. William Goetch is one, though he was less enthusiastic about Trump than Ludwig.

WILLIAM GOETCH: Well, I don't particularly like him, but I like what he's for, I'd say - mostly.

KURTZLEBEN: Goetch farms just outside of Cresco, Iowa, in an area that voted solidly for Obama and then solidly for Trump. I spoke to him outside on a sweltering summer day. And I asked if he, too, could be a swing voter.

Could you possibly be swayed by Joe Biden at all?

GOETCH: I - no, I couldn't be, just mostly because of the issue on abortion.

KURTZLEBEN: Biden wants there to be a federal law protecting the right to get an abortion. Trump wants Roe v. Wade overturned and has said he only supports abortion rights in cases of rape, incest or protecting a mother's life. The confirmation battle over Amy Coney Barrett may heighten enthusiasm among Trump's base, but it's unclear how much it will boost Trump among other voters. Republican pollster Whit Ayres points out that while abortion is polarizing, it's not often a top concern.

WHIT AYRES: If you ask about the most important issue facing the country in comparison with issues like the pandemic, jobs and the economy, health care, our educational system, abortion barely registered.

KURTZLEBEN: But then, far more voters see abortion as a sort of personal litmus test, particularly voters who oppose abortion rights. This spring, Gallup found that 30% of people who consider themselves, quote, "pro-life" say they would only vote for a candidate who shares that view, compared to 19% who consider themselves, quote, "pro-choice." Republicans as a whole remain split on how they'd like the court to handle abortion. Half say they would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, one quarter say they wouldn't, and the rest are unsure, according to a YouGov poll conducted after Ginsburg's death. For Adam Hardy, from Brooklyn Park, Minn., abortion is no longer decisive. As a white evangelical, the issue was top of mind for him in 2016 when he voted for Trump. Hardy can pinpoint exactly what made him decide he wouldn't vote for him again.

ADAM HARDY: Really, what happened with the caravan through southern and Central America and then having the children separated from their parents at the border is really what turned it for me to not supporting Donald Trump and not focusing on abortion as the sole issue of electing a candidate.

KURTZLEBEN: Hardy is one of a small but important group of voters - those who voted for Barack Obama and then Trump. Hardy still considers himself anti-abortion, but he also believes it should be a woman's choice. And he fears that if the practice were banned, people would dangerously attempt it themselves. He added that he thinks abortion-rights opponents need to expand their focus.

HARDY: The pro-life movement being solely focused on the unborn child seems to forget or ignore, after birth, how that child will grow up and what type of environment they will grow up in.

KURTZLEBEN: Candidates will be fighting hard for votes from Hardy and his fellow Minnesotans. He thinks he knows how he'll vote, though he's not enthused about it.

HARDY: In all reality, it's America and our terrible two-party system. And so until things change, I think I have to vote Biden just to ensure that my vote will be counted against Trump.

KURTZLEBEN: Hardy is part of what may be another sizable and crucial voting bloc this year - those unenthusiastic voters the campaigns need to make sure actually cast a ballot.

Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR News.

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