IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Abortion rights support remains a major challenge for the GOP, poll shows

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Anti-abortion supporters gather on the National Mall in Washington
Anti-abortion supporters gather on the National Mall in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2023. Nathan Posner / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Friday ... The U.S. announces more military assistance for Ukraine on one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion. ... Ukraine’s Zelenskyy promises victory in 2023. ... President Biden meets, virtually, with Zelenskyy and G-7 leaders. ... We break down where the ’24 GOP candidates stand on Ukraine. ... And Mike Pence delivers a foreign-policy speech in Austin, Texas.

But first: Abortion has become an even bigger political problem for the Republican Party after Roe’s downfall.

That’s the unmistakable conclusion from a new national PRRI poll (conducted of more than 20,000 respondents), which finds 64% of Americans believing abortion should be legal in all or most cases — up from 55% who said this in 2010.

By party, 87% of Democrats, 65% of independents but just 37% of Republicans say abortion should be legal.

The poll’s size also allows a state-by-state look: Majorities of residents in 43 states and D.C. think abortion should be legal.

That includes the presidential battlegrounds of Arizona (where 62% say it should be legal in all or most cases), Georgia (57%), Michigan (66%), Nevada (80%), Pennsylvania (61%) and Wisconsin (64%).

It also includes the key 2024 Senate states of Montana (64%), Ohio (66%) and West Virginia (57%).

There are only seven states where fewer than half of residents believe abortion should be legal: South Dakota (42%), Utah (42%), Arkansas (43%), Oklahoma (45%), Idaho (49%), Mississippi (49%) and Tennessee (49%).

We can’t remember another political issue where one party has been so far removed from the rest of the country — and has done little to nothing to fix it ahead of the upcoming presidential election.

Looking back at the Republican Party’s underperformance in the 2022 midterms, much of the focus has been placed on Donald Trump and the candidates he endorsed.

But don’t forget that abortion — and Roe’s downfall — also contributed to that underperformance, with 60% of all voters saying that abortion should be legal, according to the 2022 national exit poll.

Photos of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 20%

That’s the share of Americans in a January Pew Research poll who believe the U.S. has not provided enough aid to Ukraine, which has been at war with Russia as of one year on Friday. That is 22 percentage points lower than the 42% who said the same in a March 2022 Pew survey, the month after the war began. 

Pew, which recently detailed public opinion about the war over the last year, found an increase in Americans who said the U.S. is providing too much support compared to last year (from 7% to 26%) and roughly the same share of Americans (just over 30%) who say the U.S. is providing the right amount of aid. 

The data shows split views about U.S. assistance to Ukraine that were reflected in the latest NBC News poll. That survey, also conducted in January, found 49% of Americans who say the Congress should provide more funding and weapons to Ukraine, while 47% say Congress should not do so.   

Other numbers to know:

44.5%: The projected increase in weekly Democratic presidential campaign ad spending thanks to the party’s new nominating calendar, which nixes Iowa in favor of Georgia and Michigan, according to an analysis by AdImpact

4: The new charges that former cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried faces in a superseding indictment that was released Thursday. 

Nearly 21%: The turnout for Tuesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court primary, an increase from the 16% turnout in the 2020 primary that also featured a Supreme Court primary (and a special congressional election). Read more about the trends on the Meet the Press Blog

10%: The decrease in corporate and trade association PAC donations given to GOP lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 election, per an Accountable.US analysis reported on by Roll Call.  

21: The number of domestic extremism-related mass killings that occurred in the 2010s, three times more than in any 10-year period between 1970 and 2020, according to a new Anti-Defamation League report

39: How many years former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will serve behind bars after he was sentenced to another 16 years for rape. 

43,000: How many aquatic animals near the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment have died. 

700,000: The number of people without power in Michigan after a historic ice storm. 

Eyes on 2024: Where the GOP candidates stand on Ukraine

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, the conflict is exposing some significant differences between the GOP presidential hopefuls — those who tend to embrace the more hawkish foreign policy of the party’s older guard, and those who embrace the party’s more isolationist wing. 

Former President Donald Trump’s comments about the war have largely been critiques of Biden. He’s accused Biden of bringing the country to the brink of World War III and promised that if he were president, “a peace deal [would be] negotiated within 24 hours.“ 

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has given more public attention to domestic issues, but recently begun to wade into the foreign policy discussion as a possible bid draws nearer. During a Monday interview on Fox News, DeSantis accused the Biden White House of having “effectively a blank-check policy with no clear strategic objective identified,” and lamented the idea of “getting into a proxy war with China getting involved.” 

Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s U.N. ambassador, has spoken about the need to support Ukraine in stark terms reminiscent of the party’s more traditional foreign policy views. During an interview earlier this month on NBC’s TODAY, Haley said that “the war in Ukraine and Russia is not about Ukraine, it’s about freedom. And it’s a war we have to win.” And she said she supports giving Ukraine the equipment it “needs to win, not money but equipment.” 

And former Vice President Mike Pence sounds less like his former boss and more like the traditional wing of the GOP — telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity this week that it’s “absolutely essential” America stays in the fight. “After a slow start of providing support to the Ukrainian military by the Biden administration, we’re now providing that support, but now let’s get them what they need, let’s get them the tanks, let’s get them the F16s, let’s get them what they need to finish this fight.” 

In other campaign news: 

Coming soon to Milwaukee: The Republican National Committee has decided that the first presidential primary debate will take place in August in Milwaukee, which will also host the GOP convention next year. 

Pence takes the stage: Former Vice President is weighing in on foreign policy as he weighs a run for the White House. He is scheduled to give a speech on Friday in Texas marking the anniversary of the war in Ukraine, NBC News’ Garrett Haake reports. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is attempting to force Pence to testify before a grand jury as part of its probe into former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election, the New York Times reports. 

Speaking of courtroom dramas: Former President Donald Trump can be deposed in lawsuits brought by two FBI officials who have drawn Trump’s ire, a federal judge ruled Thursday. 

DeSantis watch: Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., announced an immigration package on Thursday that repeals laws expanding protections to undocumented immigrants that were once popular with Republicans in Florida, Politico reports. 

Justice’s timeline: Gov. Jim Justice, R-W. Va., told Sirius XM on Thursday that he would decide whether or not he’s running for Senate “in the next probably 15 days — 15, 20 days.” Justice then added “it would be great to wait until after our session is over … but I pretty well made my decision on what I’m going to do.” 

A slam dunk? Former NBA basketball player Enes Freedom told Fox Business he is interested in running for public office. He said would like to be a member of Congress “when the time is right” and he has started having conversations with friends and lawmakers. 

She’s running: Author and former Democratic presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson told Medill News Service Thursday that she will run for president again. 

Keeping the door open: Former GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz didn’t rule out a Senate bid against Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney in a statement provided to The Washington Examiner. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A new federal report points the finger at an overheated wheel bearing as being the likely cause of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.  

After a new CDC report found that a majority of teenage girls feel “persistently sad or hopeless,” NBC News’ Kalhan Rosenblatt spoke to nine teenage girls about their experiences. 

North Korea said it test-fired long range cruise missiles on Thursday, during military simulations the U.S. and South Korea did together in Washington.