• Description

Three months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion continues to gar­ner widespread public attention. Most Americans are still following news about abortion laws and regula­tions. In fact, they are paying far more attention to the issue than to the 2022 election itself. Over the summer, Gallup found spontaneous mentions of abortion as the "most important problem" facing the country reaching record highs.

But after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, concerns about abortion have become more politically lopsided. Democrats are far more likely to say the issue is a priority for them, and they are paying much closer attention to news about emerging legislation than Republicans are. Nearly half of Democrats say abortion is critically important to them, while fewer than one in three Republicans say the same. Not only that, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they will only vote for a candidate who shares their views on abortion—a notable change from the past.

At the same time, it's not clear that abortion will define the 2022 midterm elections. Relatively few Americans—roughly one in three—say abortion is a critical issue. Inflation and crime rank much higher among the public's concerns. It is also not clear that young women, who feel most passionately about the issue, will turn out to vote in greater numbers than in the past. And for most Americans, abortion is still one among many important issues on which they will judge a candidate.

Still, the Dobbs decision may have an even larger impact in years to come. It may be a distinctive gen­erational coming-of-age moment for many young women, and it may come to define their politics and worldview going forward. Polls show their attitudes on this and other issues are remarkably different from those of other Americans, including young men.

Today, no issue is more important for young women than abortion. It ranks higher than inflation, crime, climate change, immigration, gun policy, edu­cation, and jobs and the economy. What's more, young women overwhelmingly say abortion should be legal—including nearly half who say there should be no restrictions on it. Finally, young women are more likely than other Americans to say abortion is a defining issue for their vote.