New Poll Shows Why the Supreme Court Issue Might Hurt Republicans in the 2018 Election

When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his resignation from the Supreme Court this summer, Republicans and President Donald Trump cheered the decision as a major boon for their body and a powerful achievement to run on in the midterms. But a new poll suggests that the issue may actually hurt their chances in the 2018 elections rather than help them.


As has been widely noted, Kennedy has been a key vote on the court to preserve the integrity of Roe v. Wade, the ruling that prevents states from outlawing abortion — and Trump has promised that he would only nominate justices that would overturn this precedent.

But a new survey from NBC/Wall Street Journal found that support for the ruling is at an all-time high. Even a majority of Republicans support preserving Roe.

According to the poll, 71 percent of Americans want to keep Roe, while 23 percent want to see it reversed.

And though opposition to Roe is often seen as a pivotal issue for Republican voters, 52 percent for the GOP electorate actually wants let the ruling stand. Only 38 of the party's voters want it to be overturned.

This undermines the thought that putting Trump's nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, on the court would bode well for Republicans' chances in 2018. This is especially true if Trump is successful, as he hopes to be, at getting Kavanaugh confirmed before the election.

Democrats will be able to run against overturning Roe v. Wade and against letting Trump nominate any new justices. And as the polling shows, this argument could motivate a large portion of voters.

But for Republicans who oppose Roe, they'll likely be less motivated to get to the polls if Kavanaugh is already confirmed. Someone who finds Trump's administration distasteful but supports him because of his opposition to abortion may assume the key victory has already been achieved. Instead of going to the polls to pull the lever against abortion, they may just stay home.

Meanwhile, the majority of Republicans who oppose Roe could be ambivalent about supporting the party that will have just enabled the defeat of the key abortion protections. They may even feel motivated to cast their ballots for the party that will continue to fight for abortion access.

None of this is guaranteed, of course, and it's easy to read too much into a single poll. But the findings should certainly throw some cold water on the Republicans who are convinced this is a winning issue for their party.

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