May 27, 2022 7:00am

With Roe v. Wade in jeopardy, which party might benefit on Election Day?

Power Poll respondents in Atlanta back abortion rights, and see Dems benefiting if Supreme Court overturns landmark 1973 decision

Photo of Steve Fennessy
Atlanta, GA Correspondent

The leak of a draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade abortion rights has altered the social and political landscape of the nation. If the opinion becomes final, the question of abortion rights would be turned over to individual states. In Georgia, a law has been on the books for three years that would ban virtually all abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks after conception.

Pro-choice advocates have challenged the law in federal court, and it’s currently pending before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the law would go into effect statewide. While not an outright ban on abortions (such as what Oklahoma’s governor just signed into law), Georgia’s law would constitute, in effect, a ban, considering that at six weeks, many women don’t even know they’re pregnant.

Abortion, of course, represents one of the great divides in American politics. As a Pew Poll demonstrates, only one out of four Americans hold an absolutist view of abortion—that it should always be permitted, or always be illegal. Sixty-one percent of those polled believe it should be legal. In Georgia, where Republicans hold both state houses and the governor’s office, but which went with Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, the numbers are tighter: 49 percent are in favor of abortion rights, with 46 percent opposed.

Those who participated in this month’s Power Poll are far less divided: 77 percent oppose Georgia’s “fetal heartbeat” ban on abortions, while 18 percent are in favor of the law. Not surprisingly, though, the issue of abortion evinces strong reactions, both for and against. Power Poll participant Kelly Walsh, a Decatur city commissioner, writes that “An abortion ban would be ruinous for the already dilapidated state of maternal healthcare in Georgia.” But George Blau, a retired associate judge in Fulton Juvenile Court, was unequivocal in the other direction: “Murder is murder,” he writes. “[One] cannot kill for convenience. People need to take responsibility for their actions. Birth control methods are fully available.”

All this will-they-or-won’t-they drama from the Supreme Court is playing out against the backdrop of a midterm election year. And no race in Georgia will be more closely watched than Kemp’s race against challenger Democrat Stacey Abrams. If the Supreme Court does indeed overturn Roe v. Wade between now and Election Day, will the move benefit Democrats or Republicans at the polls? Democrats stand to win, say 60 percent of Power Poll respondents, with a distinct minority (22 percent) saying Republicans stand to benefit the most. The reminder, 18 percent, don’t know.

There’s another backdrop to consider, and that’s the coronavirus, variants of which are prompting a fifth surge in Georgia, more than two years into the pandemic. But have we moved on? Most our respondents think so, with four out of five either not concerned or slightly concerned about what the future may hold. Only 17 percent say they’re “very concerned” that they are someone close to them will get infected (or re-infected, as is happening more and more). Incidentally, Power Poll respondents clearly don’t represent the state as a whole when it comes to vaccination. Only 3 percent of respondents say they’re not vaccinated at all.

Finally, the Braves—As this is written, the Braves are seven games back in the NL East. But don’t fret, Braves fans: The team is right about where they were a year ago, when they ended the season as World Series champions. And Ronald Acuna Jr. is back! Thirty-four percent of Power Poll respondents say his return is the shot in the arm the team needs to climb back atop the NL East. Others are less sanguine, with 25 percent believing that losing Freddie Freeman is a loss from which the team just can’t recover. As Michael Eriksen of Georgia State University puts it, “Freddie gave the team spirit!”

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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