POLITICS poll – Harvard: gun policies, along with abortion, inflation and the economy, are the main concern of voters

The survey margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.

The poll results come as candidates take their step after Labor Day, looking for issues that will motivate voters in what promises to be an election closer than expected. Democrats have canceled the GOP’s advantage for controlling the Senate, and Republicans could end up with a meager majority in the House.

That pre-abortion classified weapons policy defies conventional wisdom, which underpins the June Supreme Court decision to overturn roe deer v. veal and allowing abortion to become almost banned in nearly half the country would be the best rallying cry of Democrats in this cycle to counter Republicans over high gas and food prices as symbols of a misguided economy. While the poll confirms that abortion is crucial, it also shows that it is not the only avenue Democrats have to garner support.

One possible explanation for the findings, which saw issues such as criminal justice reform and climate change at the bottom of the list, is that respondents were asked to describe the deciding factors for which they intended to vote in the upcoming elections, not necessarily issues. important to them in the long term, said Robert Blendon, emeritus professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

“We were expecting this huge increase in abortion, but the gun issue was a total shock,” he said. “I think we have people who respond to the most salient short-term concerns. … The school shootings of the past six months have caused people to be really worried about the weapons available. “

President Joe Biden made gun safety the focus of a recent speech, touting the Safer Communities Actand focusing on how children, in particular, are common victims of gun violence.

“Think of the devastation that has happened,” said Biden of Pennsylvania, who has a competitive Senate and governor competitions. “We have to act for all those kids shot dead in our streets every single day who don’t make the news.”

The string of shootings in schools and public places is likely underpinning voter responses, Blendon said.

“This changes the way people think about it,” he said. “The school [shootings] to have people scared. It’s not just the parents, it’s the grandparents. It’s that kids can buy these guns and there’s nothing you can do about it. “

The immediacy of the threat and a sense of helplessness make the problem similar to inflation for many people, Blendon said.

“It’s not an abstract concept,” he said.

Overall, the poll offers good news for Democrats, Blendon said, as concerns that drive Republican-led voters – such as gas prices and inflation – could decline in the coming months as issues like abortion and weapons policies will not be resolved in November.

“If inflation eases and gas prices ease, it’s a real help … for Democrats,” he said, as voters are likely to shift to other concerns such as health care, weapons, and health. abortion, which tend to become more Democratic-prone voters.

Healthcare continues to rank first for many voters with more than a third saying it is “extremely important” in their November remarks. And the vast majority of these are concerned about the cost of health care and medicine, as opposed to other issues like access to medical care or the uninsured rate.

Healthcare costs and prescription drug prices can have a huge influence during times of high inflation, when Americans are faced with the shock of stickers on a number of items and are more cost-sensitive.

However, abortion can still prove particularly salient in some neighboring races. In a similar POLITICS-Harvard poll from 2018, abortion ranked 11th out of 15 numbers; in 2020 it was in 14th place out of 19 numbers. This is a far greater change in attitude than arms policies, which have moved from seventh in 2020 to third in 2022.

The poll also showed a large gender gap when it comes to abortion – more than half of women said how they vote is extremely important compared to 36% of men.

And in some fluctuating states, women significantly outperform men in the new recordings. In Wisconsin, for example, women have outnumbered men by 15.6% since then. roe deer it fell, according to Democratic voter data company TargetSmart. In Michigan, women are outpacing men by 8.1% and Democrats are outpacing Republicans by 18%.

These figures lend credence to a key aspect of the poll: voter turnout is key. “If you have a Republican turnout, these problems [inflation and the economy] it will dominate, “Blendon said.” If you’re a Democrat and want to increase voter turnout, talk about abortion, guns and health care. “

The poll, conducted from August 5 to 22, also found that about two-thirds of voters who said abortion was “extremely important” said Congress should enact federal law protecting abortion rights, while 20% believed that states should be left and 15% were in favor of a national ban. Notably, 62% of Republicans who said abortion was an “extremely important” issue to them said the procedure should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, and 50% of those Republicans believe it should be allowed. if there is evidence of severe birth defects.

Indiana, so far the only state to have passed a new abortion restriction since then roe deer fell, granted exemption for rape and incest. In South Carolina, which appears to be the second state to pass a new anti-abortion law, a House committee has advanced legislation after voting to remove exceptions for incest and rape, although legislative observers say it’s unlikely pass without exemptions.

Much lower on the list of “extremely important” issues were Covid-19 (16%) and the war in Ukraine (9%), which makes sense for Blendon, who suggested that these issues are more abstract for most people, many of whom base their next vote on issues that affect their lives now.

“Americans are not losing their lives [in Ukraine]”He said.” People aren’t passionate about their support for it. “

Tucker Doherty contributed to this report.