Support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, has hit a record high in a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll ahead of the battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court.
The survey shows that 71 percent of Americans believe that Roe should not be overturned, while only 23 percent want the ruling reversed. Supporters of the ruling include 88 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans.
This is the highest level of support for the ruling, and the lowest level of voters who want Roe overturned, in the NBC-WSJ poll’s history dating back to 2005. For historical perspective, a Gallup poll in 1989 showed that 58 percent of voters supported the ruling, while 31 percent wanted it overturned.
Defenders of abortion rights are concerned that Kavanaugh, who has a conservative track record on the federal bench, could fundamentally change the balance of the top court and put Roe at risk.
If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh will succeed retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was the pivotal vote in 1992 in a decision that upheld Roe.
The NBC-WSJ poll also showed that more voters are likely to support a political candidate who backs abortion rights rather than one who opposes them. Forty-four percent of voters said they are more likely to vote for a pro-abortion-rights candidate, while 26 percent said they are more likely to support a candidate who backs restrictions on abortions. Twenty-nine percent said a candidate’s views on abortion makes no difference to them.
Public opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court is higher than it was in advance of several of his predecessors’ confirmations.