US Democrats' support for abortion grows, low election priority: poll

July 30 (Reuters) - U.S. Democrats' support for abortion rights grew in the last two years, but for most, it will be a low priority in the November mid-term election compared with issues such as healthcare and the economy, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows.

The poll found that 68 percent of Democrats said in July that abortion should be legal, up from 60 percent in a similar poll conducted in June 2016.

But just 9 percent of registered Democratic voters cited abortion as the most important issue to determine how they will vote in November, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll gauging Americans' top priorities in the midterm elections.

Sixteen percent said their top priority was healthcare and 12 percent said it was the economy.

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Protests for and against abortion legality in Ireland
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Protests for and against abortion legality in Ireland
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 14: Protestors take part in the Rally for Choice march on October 14, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The pro choice marchers are demanding equal abortion rights with the rest of the United Kingdom and changes to the current law in Northern Ireland that sees abortions only available in fatal foetal abnormality cases. Abortion is legal in the rest of the United Kingdom. In 2016 a 21 year old woman from the province was given a suspended sentence at Belfast Crown Court after buying drugs on the internet to induce a miscarriage. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Demonstrators march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators hold posters as they march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators hold posters as they march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators hold posters as they march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators hold posters as they march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators hold posters as they march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators march for more liberal Irish abortion laws, in Dublin, Ireland September 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators take part in a protest to urge the Irish Government to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution, which enforces strict limitations to a woman's right to an abortion, in Dublin, Ireland September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Demonstrators take part in a protest to urge the Irish Government to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution, which enforces strict limitations to a woman's right to an abortion, in Dublin, Ireland September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
An anti-abortion protester attempts to interrupt a demonstration urging the Irish Government to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution, which enforces strict limitations to a woman's right to an abortion in Dublin, Ireland September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
An anti-abortion activist demonstrates outside the the Supreme Court in central London on October 24, 2017 where a case on the abortion regime in Northern Ireland is being heard. Abortion in Northern Ireland is illegal in all cases except when the life of the mother is in danger. The case, which has been brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, is arguing that abortion should be legal in the cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and where the foetus is seriously malformed or would not survive the birth. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion activists demonstrate outside the the Supreme Court in central London on October 24, 2017 where a case on the abortion regime in Northern Ireland is being heard. Abortion in Northern Ireland is illegal in all cases except when the life of the mother is in danger. The case, which has been brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, is arguing that abortion should be legal in the cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and where the foetus is seriously malformed or would not survive the birth. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 24: Pro-life supporters hold anti-abortion placards as the UK Supreme Court begins to hear challenge to Northern Ireland abortion laws on October 24, 2017 in London, England. The case will consider whether Northern Ireland law breaches womens rights by not allowing abortions in cases of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormalities. PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 14: Protestors take part in the Rally for Choice march on October 14, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The pro choice marchers are demanding equal abortion rights with the rest of the United Kingdom and changes to the current law in Northern Ireland that sees abortions only available in fatal foetal abnormality cases. Abortion is legal in the rest of the United Kingdom. In 2016 a 21 year old woman from the province was given a suspended sentence at Belfast Crown Court after buying drugs on the internet to induce a miscarriage. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
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"Abortion rights have been kind of an also-ran issue," said Jeremy Freese, a professor of sociology at Stanford University. "I'm not saying it's not there as an issue, but I wouldn't say that it's risen to the level of being one of the defining issues."

Some Democrats, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have made abortion rights front and center in their campaigns ahead of November, hoping to energize supporters after U.S. President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

If Kavanaugh, a conservative, replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy on the top U.S. court, he could tip the balance and help overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.

Campaigning on abortion rights might benefit some Democrats' fundraising efforts for the mid-term elections, Freese said, but it is hard to gauge whether it will further motivate people to vote.

"I don't know ... how much that will resonate with voters beyond what it already has," Freese said, adding that voter enthusiasm is already high among Democrats eager to regain control of Congress.

Some 52 percent of U.S. adults said abortion should be legal, according to the poll, while 61 percent of Republicans said abortion in general should be illegal, little changed since June 2016.

According to Reuters/Ipsos data, 7 percent of U.S. registered voters cited abortion and other social issues as the most important factors determining their vote.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll surveyed 7,543 adults online across the United States in July and it has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of about 1 percentage point. (Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Chris Kahn and Susan Thomas)

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