Few individual news events have the power to singlehandedly rearrange voters’ electoral priorities. But if anything held that possibility, it might have been the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Beyond its immediate consequences for abortion access, the ruling also carried the potential to shift the focus of the midterms away from the economic issues that have dominated the early days of the campaign.
In the weeks since the Supreme Court’s ruling, we’ve seen a first wave of polling trying to gauge where voters’ priorities now lie, and what that might mean for the upcoming elections. Early results suggest that concerns about abortion and women’s rights have surged, with Democrats’ attention particularly drawn to the issue. At the same time, they find the majority of voters’ focus has so far remained elsewhere.
What voters care about, and how those priorities influence their decisions, is too complicated to be fully captured in a single poll question. The degree to which voters personally care about an issue is different from the question of whether that issue will be decisive in an election, either by motivating someone to vote when they wouldn’t have otherwise, or by convincing them to vote for a different candidate than they would have otherwise. But compari