'It puts this issue front and center': Veteran Marquette pollster on abortion rights issue in 2022 Election

TMJ4'S Chief Political Reporter Charle Benson looks at impact on 2022 races in Wisconsin
Posted at 6:21 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 19:21:19-04

If Roe v Wade is overturned, the debate on this very political issue will likely shift from the nation's capital to right here at the state capitol.

It's already becoming a big election issue for 2022.

The visceral response on Twitter was immediate after the stunning leak from inside the US Supreme Court.

Four of the pro-choice Democratic U.S. Senate candidates called for the Senate to act quickly to protect women's rights - while Republican Senator Ron Johnson blasted the "unprecedented breach."

TMJ4's Charles Benson talked with Marquette Law School Professor Charles Franklin about the political implications of any change in the 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision.

Benson: How important is this issue around pro-life and pro-choice in Wisconsin?

Franklin: Here in Wisconsin, we've had a very active pro-life movement and an active pro-choice movement. But, as I say, they haven't really been able to change policy in dramatic directions for a long time. This now opens that possibility.

Professor Franklin has been polling on this at the Jesuit college for a decade, most recently last fall with nearly half of statewide voters opposed to ending abortion rights.

"What we have is about 23% that say abortion should always be legal and about 11% say it should always be illegal," said Franklin. "But that leaves us about 60% in the middle, who say either it should be mostly legal or mostly be illegal."

Benson: How much of a motivating factor has this issue been for voters? Is it their number one issue?

Franklin: I think there were times in the 1980's when abortion was a real important issue, we often called it, the single-issue voter.

It's also a big issue for pro-life Republicans running for Governor. Several quickly put out statements Monday night hoping the Supreme Court leak was true.

Governor Evers tweeted overturning Roe v Wade would have "disastrous consequences for the state."

So, if the abortion issue becomes a state issue, who sits in the Governor's office takes on an even greater significance knowing the Republican controlled legislature is unlikely to change in 2022.

"I think it puts this issue front and center in campaigns," said veteran pollster Franklin. "But if it's not just an academic debate, but one that can actually change the laws of the state and change them in big ways, then I think this makes abortion and more relevant issue for the upcoming elections and the fall."

State Republicans passed five bills in 2021 that would have added restrictions to getting an abortion in Wisconsin and Governor Evers voted all five.

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