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Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022, after the Supreme Court ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years. More than a quarter of female Black voters describe abortion as their top issue in this year's presidential election, a new survey out Thursday from health policy research firm KFF finds. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
AMANDA SEITZ Associated Press
Published: 07 March 2024

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a quarter of female Black voters describe abortion as their top issue in this year's presidential election, a poll out Thursday from health policy research firm KFF reveals.

The findings signal a significant shift from previous election years, when white, conservative evangelicals were more likely to peg abortion as their biggest priority when voting. Those voters were highly motivated in recent presidential elections to cast ballots for Donald Trump, who promised to appoint U.S. Supreme Court judges who would take away the constitutional right to an abortion.

But just months ahead of the first presidential election since the court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, that voting dynamic is drastically changing, KFF's poll suggests.

“It’s a complete shift,” said Ashley Kirzinger, a KFF pollster. “Abortion voters are young, Black women — and not white evangelicals.”

Overall, 12% of voters surveyed said abortion was the most important issue in this year's election.

Certain female voters, however, were more likely to identify the issue as top of mind. They include 28% of Black women, 19% of women living in states where abortion is banned, and 17% of women who are under age 50.

Of voters who said that abortion was their most important issue, two-thirds said they believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

For decades, white evangelicals eager to see abortion banned have turned out to vote on the issue, Kirzinger said. Trump, a Republican, has spent nearly a decade courting those voters with promises to support conservative judges and with a cohort of religious surrogates who warned evangelicals that his Democratic rivals would dramatically expand abortion access in the U.S. Trump received overwhelming support from white evangelicals in the previous presidential elections.

But as states continue to clamp down on abortion access and Trump braces for a rematch against Democrat Joe Biden, the demographics of the abortion voter have shifted, Kirzinger said. Biden has vowed to protect abortion access since the court overturned the right.

“Abortion — it’s clearly resonating with this group," Kirzinger said. “When we think about abortion access and who is disadvantaged, it’s Black women.”

Women — and Black women, in particular — were crucial to Biden's win over Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Last week, Biden's campaign announced that first lady Jill Biden would lead a nationwide effort to mobilize that voting bloc again.

More than half of Black Americans live in Southern states, most of which swiftly introduced strict abortion laws once the Supreme Court's ruling was announced. As of last year, roughly 25 million women were living in states that had enacted new restrictions following the court's decision, an Associated Press analysis found.

Nearly two-thirds of voters polled by KFF oppose a national abortion ban beginning at 16 weeks of pregnancy. Trump has not publicly backed such a ban, but reports have circulated that he privately has told people he supports one.

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Follow the AP's coverage of abortion at https://apnews.com/hub/abortion.

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