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Planned Parenthood poll: defunding vote hurts 2018 Senate Republicans

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A newly released poll funded by Planned Parenthood found that nearly half of likely voters would be less likely to support Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in 2018 if they voted to defund the women’s health organization. 

Heller and Flake are considered the leading targets for Democrats aiming to win some Senate seats ahead of a difficult 2018 Senate map.

In Nevada, the poll shows Heller in a close match-up with a generic Democratic opponent, leading 41 to 38 percent, within the survey’s margin of error.

{mosads}But if Heller voted to defund Planned Parenthood, the poll found, 49 percent of likely voters — which includes 43 percent independents and 35 percent Republicans — would be less likely to support the Nevada Republican, despite agreeing with him on other issues.

In Arizona, the poll found Flake also in a tight race with a generic Democratic candidate, leading 36 to 33 percent, within the poll’s margin of error.

Forty-eight percent of likely Arizona voters would be less likely to support a candidate if he or she opposed funding Planned Parenthood.

This stands in contrast to a poll Susan B. Anthony List released last week showing that a majority of voters in six 2018 battleground states —  North Dakota, Montana, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin and Florida — would be less likely to support the Democratic senators in those states if they vote to keep funding Planned Parenthood.

That poll, which was conducted last year from Nov. 28 to 30 and surveyed 1,650 voters, also found that 60 percent of voters would be less likely to support their senators if they backed giving money to Planned Parenthood over community health centers.

Planned Parenthood has been a flashpoint in political campaigns and Congress, especially in the context of congressional Republicans’ ObamaCare repeal.

{mosads}Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced last week that defunding the women’s health organization will be part of the healthcare law’s repeal. While President-elect Donald Trump has previously said Planned Parenthood “has done very good work for millions of women,” he has also said the organization won’t be funded if it still performs abortions.

Current laws prohibit federal money from funding abortions at Planned Parenthood, but the group still receives federal money for other women’s health services.

Democrats are pushing back on this effort and calling on Trump to not eliminate the Obama administration’s rule that bars states from cutting Planned Parenthood out of federal family planning grants.

Amid the fight to protect ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood, Democrats also have a tough Senate map in 2018. The party must defend 25 seats, including two seats held by Independents, while Republicans only need to protect eight seats.

Heller and Flake are the only two Democratic targets this cycle.

Heller will be defending his seat in a state that was carried by Hillary Clinton and Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto and will be Democrats’ best chance at flipping a seat during a tough cycle.

Flake, meanwhile, is defending a seat in a state Trump carried that historically trends red. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was thought to be vulnerable in 2016, but pulled off a win and ran ahead of Trump. Flake was critical of Trump during the campaign, which could make him vulnerable to a primary challenger.

Both polls were conducted by Global Strategy Group last year from Dec. 16 to 20, and surveyed 600 likely general election voters in their respective states. The margin of error was 4 percentage points in both surveys.

Tags Dean Heller Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Flake John McCain Paul Ryan

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