By Glenn Fleishman
July 24, 2018

The 1973 Supreme Court decision that provided a legal right to abortions in the U.S. has never had a higher level of support, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found. Among American voters, 71% expressed support while only 23% thought the decision should be reversed.

More surprising, however, is that 52% of Republican voters polled expressed support for Roe v. Wade, a result at odds with policies put into place by GOP officials. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans polled opposed the landmark legal decision.

Even as many U.S. states have imposed or attempted to impose severe restrictions on obtaining abortions—a recent trend that occurs in the shadow of a conservative-leaning Supreme Court—voters increasingly say they want the Roe decision to stand. In 1989, 58% of Americans polled supported it and 31% opposed. Support has, on average, increased as time has passed.

The poll also asked respondents about how they favored candidates who supported or opposed abortion rights. That split was far more partisan than overall support for Roe. Forty-six percent of Republicans said they preferred a candidate with a “right to life” stance; 24% of independents and 9% of Democrats said the same. Meanwhile 68% of Democrats preferred a “pro-choice” candidate; 49% of independents and 15% of Republicans agreed.

Overall, 44% of respondents said they were more likely to support an abortion-rights candidate; 26% said they were more likely to support the opposite. Twenty-nine percent said it made no difference.

The news outlets paired these questions with others about the Supreme Court. Their findings: 32% of voters back the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the nation’s highest court; 26% oppose it. The Supreme Court gets overall kudos, however, with 50% of voters polled expressing a positive view of the branch of government. (Seventeen percent were negative.) That’s a big change from July 2015, when 39% gave SCOTUS a thumbs up and 32% gave it a thumbs down.

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