Poll: Abortion only lags behind the economy as a motivating issue for Nevada voters | News from Carson City, Nevada
Tabitha Mueller, the Independent from Nevada
Abortion laws are one of the top factors driving voters to the polls, and there is broad support for major structural changes to the US Supreme Court, according to a recent poll by The Nevada Independent and OH Predictive Insights.
Nearly 17 percent of respondents said abortion laws were the issue that most motivated them to vote, second only to the economy (40 percent) but ahead of other issues such as education (4 percent), gun laws (7 percent ) and tax laws (2 percent). About 92 percent of respondents said they see at least some circumstances where abortion should be legal, with only 8 percent saying it should be illegal under all circumstances.
Of those 92 percent of respondents, 45 percent said abortion should be legal under all circumstances, while 47 percent said it should be legal, but only under certain circumstances.
The poll results come nearly six weeks after the country’s highest court ruled in Roe v. Wade has lifted abortion protections, signaling the big role the decision could play in the upcoming midterm elections.
Broad, bipartisan support for abortion rights also showed its colors Tuesday as Kansas voters rejected an attempt to block access to abortion (59 percent to 41 percent) in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have eliminated the law in the state and the Constitution cleared the way for the legislature to ban the procedure. It was the first state to vote on abortion rights since the Supreme Court decision.
“Democrats are really fighting for enthusiasm in this election,” said Mike Noble, chief researcher and managing partner of OH Predictive Insights. “Abortion [issue] really woke them up a bit…why would they get engaged, why it’s important to go out and vote.
Nine out of ten Nevadans believe abortion in some form should be legal. According to Noble, polls also showed that those with an anti-abortion stance were more willing to change their position depending on the circumstances than those with pro-choice views.
Although support for abortion rights is high in Nevada, opinions differ on the timelines for abortion protections. About 23 percent of respondents said abortion should be legal at any stage of pregnancy, more than a third said 24 weeks is enough (the current legal time frame in Nevada), while 23 percent said the legal time limit should be 15 weeks . Another 28 percent said abortion should not be allowed at any point in a pregnancy (which is expected to last 40 weeks).
Noble said the Supreme Court’s decisions on abortion and other issues like gun control had fueled activism for overhauls of the Supreme Court itself. Polling results showed strong support for binding Supreme Court members to a code of ethics, increasing the number of judges, introducing term limits and setting an age limit for judges, among other changes.
Support tended to depend on party preference, with respondents who identified as Democrats expressing the greatest support for change, followed by bipartisan and Republican. Noble said the party identification-based support for reform was not surprising, particularly given the court’s conservative leanings.
Changes to abortion protections in Nevada
Abortion rights in the Silver State have been protected by state law for more than 30 years and could only be overturned by a direct majority vote of the people. Nevada legislatures and the governor have no authority to restrict access to abortions before 24 weeks gestation — the point at which a fetus is generally considered capable of surviving with support outside the womb.
The most recent attempt to ban abortion came in 2012 when anti-abortion activists circulated but failed to qualify a ballot initiative to end abortion protections by defining life as beginning at conception.
The OH Predictive Insights/The Nevada Independent poll shows such a policy would have little support. Just 22 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to support a candidate who supports a petition to repeal Nevada’s abortion law, compared to 38 percent who said they would be unlikely to pick such a candidate.
Forty percent of respondents indicated some level of indifference, saying they were neither likely nor unlikely to favor a candidate holding these positions. During his unsuccessful run for governor earlier this year, former Senator Dean Heller vowed he would raise the money necessary to get a pro-life law on the ballot, saying, “I realize that this is the only way that will change.”
But lifting abortion protections isn’t the only avenue anti-abortionists are seeking.
This year, anti-abortion activists are pushing for a ballot initiative to introduce a parental notification policy that requires parents to be given at least 48 hours’ notice before a minor has an abortion, despite previous attempts having failed. Supporters of the initiative have until November 23 to submit their signatures.
More than half of survey participants supported a 48-hour notification window for parents, a quarter said they were neutral on the issue, and 19 percent opposed it.
Abortion has emerged as a leitmotif ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, with candidates either embarking on the issue or shying away from saying much, if anything.
US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) has made protecting abortion rights a central tenet of her re-election campaign. In contrast, her Republican challenger, former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, has downplayed the issue’s importance to the campaign, instead highlighting rising gas prices and economic woes. Laxalt did not respond to specific questions about his stance on abortion rights, but the Roe v. Called Wade “a joke” while lamenting Nevada’s abortion protections.
In the run for governor, Governor Steve Sisolak said, “As long as I am governor, I will oppose all attempts — whether federal or state — to attack a Nevada woman’s right to an abortion within 24 weeks of her pregnancy.”
His opponent, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, said he was “pro-life” but remained largely noncommittal on his pro-abortion stance, noting, “Abortion policy is already addressed in Nevada law.” The governor and the legislature cannot make changes to it. The voters make it law and only they can change it.”
In May, Las Vegas Review-Journal conservative columnist Victor Joecks wrote that when asked, Lombardo said he would support sending voters a 13-week initiative banning abortion, with exceptions for physical health, rape and incest. Lombardo’s campaign, asked for comment on more specific details on Friday, confirmed his response and said he would support giving voters the “final decision” on a 13-week abortion ban if put forward by lawmakers or voters would.
“When the Nevada voters and legislature send a bill to the governor’s office, Joe always said he would view it through a pro-life lens,” Lombardo spokeswoman Elizabeth Ray said in an email to The Nevada Independent.
Lombardo’s campaign said it supports parental notification for minors but has not commented on spousal notification because a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional in 1981. Recent campaign financial reports show spending of $1,500 from Lombardo’s campaign to the anti-abortion organization Nevada Right to Life, along with a spending of just over $1,400 to an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center – Women’s Resource Medical Centers for Southern Nevada – for special event fees.
This story was updated at 10 a.m. on Friday, August 8, 2022 to include information about Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo’s stance on abortion.
For more on the lead candidates’ abortion stances, see this story.