- The GOP win in getting the Supreme Court to strip abortion rights didn’t sit well with young voters.
- A new poll reveals abortion access concerns Gen Zers much more than their older counterparts.
- With this in mind, the GOP shouldn’t be surprised it’s losing young voters.
The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision appears to have ruined any chance of winning over many Gen Z voters, recently released polling shows.
In June 2022, the Supreme Court overturned decades of abortion protections in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.
On its face, it was a victory for the Republican Party, which for decades pushed to restrict access to abortion, but the decision is also galvanizing the youngest generation of voters to go to the voting booth and vote against GOP candidates.
According to a recently released Walton Family Foundation/Murmuration survey that specifically sought to understand the motivations of the youngest voters, 29% of Gen Z respondents said that “abortion/women’s rights” was the political issue that “concerned” them most when voting, coming ahead of “the economy,” (8%) “election integrity,” (7%) and “no specific issue” (10%).
For the survey, Murmuration polled 3,227 15 to 25-year-olds (members of Gen Z) and 1,036 adults aged 26 or older. The Gen Z survey had a 1.7% margin of error, while the survey of adults aged 26 years or older had one of 3%.
Aside from “other,” which also garnered 29%, abortion access was by far the most pressing issue amongst Gen Z.
The survey also showed that members of Gen Z appear to be much more concerned about the legislative battle for abortion access than adults aged 26 or older. While 29% of Gen Z respondents said they were concerned about abortion and women’s rights, 11% of the older portion of the population said it was their top concern, an 18 percentage point difference.
According to the poll, adult respondents aged 26 or older were more likely to be concerned with the “economy” or “inflation” — each polled at 15% — than abortion access, which only received 11%.
The Murmuration survey findings aren’t an anomaly — they’re part of a growing trend in polling indicating that young Americans are increasingly motivated to get out and vote by the Dobbs decision.
According to polling from Gallup, 71% of respondents aged 18 to 29 identified as “pro-choice.” The share of “pro-choice” respondents hiked significantly between 2021 and 2022, jumping 15 percentage points.
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, for example, estimated that more than a quarter of people aged 18 to 29 — the second highest turnout from young voters in nearly three decades — cast a ballot in the 2022 midterm elections, which occurred just months after the Dobbs decision.
The conclusions drawn from these polls shouldn’t be surprising to Republican leaders, as they’ve already seen voters come out in droves against a proposed constitutional amendment in Kansas post-Dobbs.
In August 2022, voters in Kansas, a Republican bastion, resoundingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have eliminated a right to abortion from the state constitution.
Over the past decade, several constitutional amendments and referendums similar to Kansas’ were easily passed in other Republican-leaning states like Tennessee, Alabama, and Louisiana.
Those referendums and amendments, however, were voted on when Roe v. Wade was still the law of the land and voters had little indication to think its protections would be summarily overturned less than a decade later.
Since the Supreme Court punted abortion rights back to a state-to-state basis, referendums and constitutional amendments restricting abortion access will continue to pop up.
Just don’t expect young voters to be on board.