Minnesota poll: 52 percent of voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade

People gather in a group for a rally outside.
Abortion rights supporters gather outside St. Paul College before marching to the Minnesota State Capitol on July 17. About 52 percent of 800 registered voters who were contacted last week by Mason-Dixon polling said they think the U.S. Supreme Court should not have overturned Roe v. Wade.
Tim Evans for MPR News file

Minnesotans are divided about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision earlier this summer to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 50-year-old case that ensured federal protection for access to abortion, according to a new MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 poll. 

About 52 percent of 800 registered voters who were contacted last week by Mason-Dixon polling said they think the U.S. Supreme Court should not have overturned Roe v. Wade.

Nurse and mother of two Nadine Garcia was among them.

"The whole anti-abortion thing, they frame it as an issue regarding the babies — it's all about the babies, the babies. But where are those people when it comes to the babies in foster care? I mean, where are they when it comes to food stamps, health care?” Garcia asked. “You know, you can't just call it all about the babies and then turn around and the baby's high risk and has to be in the hospital for three months and say well, you shouldn't have had the kid. You can't have it both ways.”

About 40 percent of those polled said they support the decision to remove federal protections for abortion.

Mary Williamson of Carver was one of them.

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"I don't think that the overturning is detrimental,” Williams said. “I think that it's putting something that is not a constitutional right—it's just a law—back into the hands of individual states, and those states now have to work together with their citizens to figure out what they want in their laws and what they want available for their people."

Eight percent of respondents said they were undecided on overturning Roe. 

On another question, about 55 percent said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 41 percent said it should be illegal in most cases. Fewer than 3 percent said abortion should be illegal in all cases.

The poll was conducted Sept. 12-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. 

According to the poll, male voters are nearly evenly split on the Roe v. Wade reversal, while women are much more likely to oppose the decision: 57 to 35 percent.

Nearly 80 percent of Republicans said they support the decision. A slight majority of those who identify as independent said they oppose the ruling. 

More than 85 percent of Democrats said they oppose it.  

Abortion has always been a campaign issue, but this summer's Supreme Court decision moved it well beyond a stock talking point. 

"It was a lot easier before the Supreme Court issued that ruling," said University of Minnesota Duluth political science professor Cindy Rugeley, who notes the fear of losing abortion rights has engaged many Americans.

"The people that are pro-abortion rights, they weren't mobilized. They thought, ‘oh, they can talk about it all they want,’” Rugeley said. “But all of a sudden, you've got the Supreme Court decision that says — ‘whoa, I've got to worry about that, too.’ Suddenly, it's not something that can't happen. It's something that did happen. And that changes a lot of people's focus and their emphasis on that issue."

Overall the poll found that abortion is the biggest issue for about 22 percent as they consider who to vote for in the governor's race. It's a bigger issue for Democrats than for Republicans. The poll shows the economy and crime are top issues for more voters. 

A 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling found a right to abortion in the state constitution, which means it would be difficult to ban abortion outright here. But depending on who is elected, the Legislature and governor could try to enact restrictions that fall short of an outright ban. 

For additional findings from the September MPR News/Star Tribune/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll, including notes about methodology and sample characteristics, visit the APM Research Lab methodology page here.