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Poll: Americans overwhelmingly reject criminalizing abortion, divided on other issues

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, we have some more data about how Americans feel about their presidential candidates. The information comes from a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey, which is out this morning, and NPR's senior political editor and correspondent, Domenico Montanaro, has been looking at the results. Hey there, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK. Always important to find out what the survey questions are. What did this survey ask?

MONTANARO: Well, we asked if people agreed or disagreed on a range of topics. I mean, there were some 1,300 respondents, and they disagreed about a lot, as you'd expect. But there were some glimmers of hope out there, of positivity. Two-thirds say that they think the American dream is still attainable, for example.

INSKEEP: OK.

MONTANARO: And 4 in 5 say that they have friends with political views that are different from their own.

INSKEEP: Oh, well, that is interesting in a divided country. So what are some of the differences that people are arguing about with their friends, apparently?

MONTANARO: Well, first of all, given all that's happened on reproductive rights, there was near unanimity that getting an abortion should not be criminalized, speaking of things that they agree on.

INSKEEP: OK.

MONTANARO: Eighty-four percent say that women who have an abortion should not face penalties like fines or jail time. That included, by the way, 4 in 5 Republicans. That's not to say anything of support of various restrictions. I mean, we know that that's a huge gray area, not something that we asked about this time.

INSKEEP: Right.

MONTANARO: Another area, though, of disagreement, frankly, is whether Biden - President Biden was legitimately - whether he legitimately won the election. We know that he did. I mean, this is an area where it's been proven repeatedly in the courts. And while we found that 7 in 10 overall say that he won, including 72% of independents, it was a different story for Republicans. Six in 10 of them disagreed with that. Most Republicans also think that the country has gotten so far off track that it might need a leader who's willing to break some rules to set things right, and a not-insignificant portion of them - 28% - say Americans may have to resort to violence in order to get the country back on track. That may be alarming, but also shows just how much Republicans have really bought into Trump's election lies and rhetoric.

INSKEEP: I guess we should mention, when you say rhetoric, the former president uses apocalyptic language about almost everything. What else did you find in terms of issues that motivate Republicans, though?

MONTANARO: Well, it's immigration, immigration, immigration, I mean, first and foremost. We've seen and heard Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail, and we hear it from voters we interview, but Republicans in the survey were almost unanimous in believing that all immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally should be deported. Eighty-four percent say that they agree with that. And they're on fairly solid footing politically because 55% of independents also agree with that statement, while less than a quarter of Democrats do. Another big motivator for Republicans - discrimination against whites. Seventy-seven percent of them believe that discrimination against white people has become just as big a problem as discrimination against Black Americans and other minority groups, and we know that white grievance has been a huge part of Donald Trump's policies.

INSKEEP: How does that translate to feelings about the candidates themselves?

MONTANARO: Well, Biden, we saw, had an uptick in his approval rating. He's up to 43% now. And he's seeing his best favorability score in three years, but the numbers are still not great. A majority say that they disapprove of the job that Biden is doing. They have an unfavorable opinion of him. Have to say, his saving grace, though, here may be Trump. I mean, more people say that they dislike Trump than Biden in the poll. Fifty-five percent said that. And Biden is beating him ever so narrowly, just by two percentage points. He also, by the way, holds on to that two-point lead when we asked - when we included third-party candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others. But long time to go until November here, but Biden - right now, with Trump, looks like as close as it possibly can be.

INSKEEP: Yeah, long time to go, and, of course, a lot more surveys to go. Always good to look at polling averages in multiple surveys over time. Domenico, thanks so much.

MONTANARO: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: NPR's senior political editor and correspondent, Domenico Montanaro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
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