NC Voters Reject New Abortion Bans

May 10, 2023


  • Senate Bill 20, the proposed Republican abortion ban, is underwater by 14 points of support
  • Support for keeping abortion care legal leads by 18 points overall
  • Most voters are hostile to state legislative candidates who support a 12-week ban


New polling from Carolina Forward and Change Research finds that Senate Bill 20, the Republican 12-week abortion banned passed out of the North Carolina state legislature last week, is deeply unpopular among a broad swath of likely 2024 voters.

Earlier this week, we broke down Senate Bill 20 and the bewildering list of provisions in its 46 pages (see: The Plot for Forced Childbearing). Now, we find strong evidence that even without knowledge of the pernicious details in its pages, North Carolina likely 2024 voters are strongly opposed to the bill on principle.

On the basic core of Senate Bill 20 – limiting the weeks of pregnancy through which a woman is eligible for abortion care – voters are opposed by a 14 point margin (54% to 40%). Most of that 56% of opposition is “strongly opposed.”

A clear majorities of Independents, Women and Suburban voters are also opposed, most of those strongly.

Asking voters about their more general views on abortion access reveals similar results. 59% of voters overall say that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared to just 41% who say it should be illegal. Majorities of every other measured group, with the exception of rural voters (narrowly) and Republicans, say the same. Even with the persistently large gender gap on abortion questions, a majority of men also agree that abortion care should remain legal.

There's also bad news in the poll for candidates supporting the proposed 12-week abortion ban. When asked, a majority of voters say they are more likely to oppose state legislative candidates supporting such a ban, including a majority of Independents, Women and Suburban voters. Most of that sentiment is similarly strongly-held. Even 1 in 5 Republican voters say they're less likely to support a candidate voting for such a ban.

In this legislative session, Republican leaders have generally pursued a hard-line agenda. One notable issue where they leaned away from the edge, however, was on the proposal to abolish North Carolina's concealed carry permit system (HB 189). When Republican leaders announced they would not be taking up the bill after all, it provoked an angry response from North Carolina's gun extremist lobby.

It turns out, this was likely a savvy political move. Abolishing the concealed carry permit system is even more deeply unpopular with voters than a 12-week abortion ban. By a 20-point margin (58% to 38%), voters are opposed to it:

When Governor Cooper vetoes Senate Bill 20, the Republican abortion ban, all eyes will be on the state legislature to see if even a single Republican legislator out of 102 will decide to break ranks and demonstrate their independence. It may require only one such legislator to stop Senate Bill 20 from becoming law. Whoever that may be, they will be voting in accordance with the will of North Carolina's voters - and likely position themselves more strongly for the 2024 election.

See the full poll report and crosstabs.

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