A Monmouth University poll released today finds that New Jerseyans are generally quite supportive of abortion access, with 62% of poll respondents defining themselves as “pro-choice” versus just 29% who defined themselves as “pro-life.”
That represents a significant change from 2013, when just 54% of respondents said they were pro-choice and 38% said they were pro-life. Monmouth evidently had not asked New Jerseyans the same question again until this year; in the intervening decade, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and nullified the constitutional right to abortion, a decision which galvanized pro-abortion sentiment across the country.
Today’s poll found substantial variation across party lines: 83% of Democrats said they were pro-choice, while 59% of independents and 34% of Republicans said the same thing. Compared to 2013, more Democrats and fewer Republicans call themselves pro-choice, creating a starker partisan divide.
“In just ten years, we’ve gone from a notable partisan difference in abortion opinion to a situation where partisanship has become more determinative,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said in a statement accompanying the poll. “However, it’s also important to note that New Jersey Republicans are slightly more likely to stray from the national party orthodoxy on this issue.”
Women (66%) were somewhat more likely than men (57%) to call themselves pro-choice, and younger respondents were more pro-choice than their older counterparts. Race, however, was not a significant dividing line: 60% of white respondents and 64% of nonwhite respondents said they’re pro-choice.
Of course, “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are labels that can mean different things to different people, and many people have nuanced perspectives on the issue – something reflected in the poll.
36% of respondents said they believe abortion should always be legal, 39% said it should be legal with some limitations, 18% said it should be illegal with exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, and 3% said it should always be illegal. (The poll did not specifically define terms like “some limitations,” so even within these subgroups there is likely significant variation in opinion.)
Abortion is fully legal in New Jersey and codified into state law, but in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, some Democrats have argued that further policies protecting and expanding abortion access are needed. Monmouth’s poll results, however, found that such exhortations may fall on deaf ears.
54% of respondents said New Jersey’s current abortion laws are “about right,” while just 11% said they should be changed to strengthen abortion access (and another 10% said they should be weakened).
Most respondents didn’t think that the state is under imminent threat of becoming more restrictive, either. 25% of respondents said it’s not at all likely abortion will be restricted in New Jersey in the next ten years, and 36% said it’s not too likely; 26% said it’s somewhat likely, and only 8% said it’s very likely.
“The majority of New Jerseyans are satisfied with the state’s current level of abortion access and have little concern it will change,” Murray said.
One policy that New Jerseyans would be happy to support, though, is putting abortion protections directly in the state constitution: 58% of respondents thought that would be a good idea, while 34% thought it would be a bad idea. Legislative leaders made a brief effort to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this year, but the campaign was nixed after pro-abortion groups said they’d rather focus their resources elsewhere.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from January 5-9 with a sample of 809 New Jersey adults and a margin of error of +/- 4.7%.