Alauna Safarpour, NULab-Affiliated Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, had an article published in The Conversation on July 25, regarding the disparity between the majority opinion in the United States regarding abortion and the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. The article, co-authored with Matthew A Baum and Kristin Lunz Trujillo, highlights Kansas’ recent referendum to maintain the constitutional right to abortion, which overwhelmingly passed with 59%, as an example of the contradiction between public opinion and restrictive state abortion laws passed by many conservative state legislatures recently. They argue that overturning Roe has not moved state abortion policies more closely with the preferences of state residents, as the Kansas referendum reveals.
Their study is based on surveys that have been conducted regularly in all 50 states since April of 2020 on attitudes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other social and political issues. Safarpour et.al argue that instead of increasing democratic representation, the overturning of Roe has actually widened the gap between public preferences and public policy, both nationwide and within many states. Across the United States, more Americans support than oppose the right to abortion in most scenarios. They posit that this widening gap between policy and opinion on abortion access may have electoral consequences. Specifically, they predict that for the first time in recent memory single issue abortion voters in 2022 may be more pro-choice than anti-abortion, which would consequently favor Democratic candidates over Republican candidates.