WASHINGTON, DC — While the continuing economic struggles of everyday Americans played a central role in the 2014 election, protecting women’s access to health care and abortion played an important part as well.  A new NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund survey in four key Senate battleground states demonstrates that voters support women’s reproductive health, want to support candidates who do as well and will vote on the issue. 

You can view the polling memo here: http://plannedparenthoodaction.org/files/7714/1580/3490/11-11-14-NARAL-PPAF-Post-Election-Poll-Memo.pdf

"This data confirms what candidates know and what we have been seeing for many months on the campaign trail --- that running on an anti-choice platform is a loser," said Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "The facts are clear, and indisputable, the majority of Americans favor women having the right to make their own health care decisions. What we saw this year was many anti-choice Republicans realizing this and running away from -- and in many cases, flat out lying about -- their own record when it came to both choice and access to birth control. Voters are not stupid. All candidates moving forward should heed these lessons, and the American people deserve representation from both parties who genuinely reflect the desire of voters to protect reproductive rights and don't just change the window dressing of their rhetoric."

“If you remember one thing about election night, it should be this: Far from women’s health and rights being a losing issue, it was an issue that helped both Democrats and Republicans win.  That’s a huge shift,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Politicians like Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis and Joni Ernst won by moderating their positions on access to birth control and abortion.  This data clearly shows that voters didn’t elect them to restrict women’s access to health care, and voters will hold them accountable to what they promised.”  

Key takeaways include:

Access to women’s health care was one of several issues forming the core critique of anti-choice Republican candidates.  

  • Overall, the charge that a candidate “opposes a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest, and when the health of the woman is in danger” was the most persuasive reason to vote against him or her.
  • Indeed, many of the Republican candidates in these Senate battleground states made an effort to moderate their positions on abortion and access to birth control to come more in line with mainstream views.

Democratic candidates had a greater advantage on the issues of women’s health care than on any other issue in the campaign.  

  • By a 57-point margin, voters in these states believed the Democratic candidate would do a better job protecting women's access to safe, legal abortion and give the Democrat a 32-point advantage on protecting women's access to health care like cancer screenings and birth control.
  • Moreover, protecting access to safe, legal abortion was the only opening for Democratic candidates to peel off support from Republican women — they favored the Democrat by 25 points on this issue while siding with the Republican by at least 29 points on every other issue tested.
  • The Democratic advantages on these issues were even larger among Independent women, who gave them a 60-point and 41-point edge, respectively.

Access to women’s health care mattered to voters — they paid attention and it impacted their voting decisions.

  • Eighty-six percent said, “protecting women's access to healthcare like cancer screenings and birth control” was an important issue in their voting decision, ranking it alongside key issues like health care, education, and Social Security/Medicare in terms of significance to voters.
  • Nearly six in ten voters reported that protecting women’s access to health care was a very important issue to them in deciding how to vote.

When this notion of personal morality was considered, 78 percent of this electorate held the position that the government should not restrict abortion access.

On behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted this survey among 1400 November 2014 voters in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.  The survey included oversamples in Colorado and North Carolina.