On May 2, Politico reported a leaked Supreme Court majority opinion draft that would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case. If it were overturned, each state would vote on whether to allow abortion and what conditions, if any, would apply to abortion. The federal right to get an abortion in each state would be gone. The PredictIt markets made their largest moves of the election cycle in the wake of the Roe v. Wade leak. The price for a Republican House and Senate dropped seven cents. The market price of a Republican House/Democrat Senate and a Democrat House and Senate both increased five cents.
But by May 7, the prices re-stabilized near their original values. The Republican House and Senate market price increased five cents after its seven-cent drop. The Democrat House and Senate and the Republican House/Democrat Senate markets fell three cents after their five-cent rises. The Roe v. Wade leak was a small market panic in this prediction market. But it doesn’t change the predicted outcome of the election.
The Roe v. Wade Leak Isn’t Scary Enough
As a single issue, the right to an abortion is a popular topic among Americans. A March 2022 Pew Research poll found that 61% of Americans believe abortion should be legal either without restrictions or under some circumstances.
However, abortion isn’t important to the electorate overall compared to other major issues. FiveThirtyEight conducted a survey from April 27 to May 5, 2022. Their sample was weighted to reflect the general population. The survey asked respondents to choose up to three issues that they considered the most important issue to the country.
Overall, 52% of respondents considered “inflation or rising costs” to be the most important issue facing the country. The next biggest issue, “political extremism or polarization,” was only chosen by 29% of respondents. Abortion ranked near the bottom. Only 4% of respondents chose abortion as one of the top three most important issues facing the country.
This is not a perfect sample of post-leak sentiment about abortion. However, the survey’s overlap with the Roe v. Wade leak, and the survey’s weighted responses offer credible insight into what will be on voters’ minds in November. Abortion may be a rallying cry to motivate Democrats to get to the polls. But it won’t be a key issue for voters outside of the college-educated liberal voting bloc.
How The Midterm Election Odds Could Change
The Roe v. Wade leak didn’t permanently shift PredictIt’s markets because abortion does not appear to be a deciding issue in the midterms. However, that could change over the next few months. Democratic messaging on the issue could sway voters into both taking the issue seriously and taking a liberal position on abortion rights. A tragic story involving abortion could go viral and capture the public imagination in a way that made the issue concrete for voters. A lot could happen between now and the midterms.
But as it stands, abortion is set to be a galvanizing issue only for voters who feel strongly about the issue. Democrats may rally around the issue to motivate their voters to make it to the polls. But that’s not enough to combat equally enthusiastic conservatives who support overturning Roe v. Wade. Threatened abortion rights also aren’t enough to sway swing voters who feel a certain loyalty to a party and vote solely on the election’s impact on their retirement funds or gas or grocery prices.