A recent Economist/YouGov poll asked Americans whether they think a variety of issues policies should be legal nationally, left to the states, or banned nationally. Americans are more likely to say that all six policies asked about should be decided at the national level — whether banned or made legal — rather than preferring they be decided at the state level. Americans are more likely to say four of the policies – same-sex marriage, marijuana, abortion, and physician-assisted suicide – should be legal nationally rather than banned nationally. On the two others – prostitution and automatic weapons – more Americans say they should be banned nationally than say they should be legalized.
Below is a breakdown of where Americans stand on the following issues:
- Abortion: 41% say it should be legal nationally, 28% say it should be left to the states, 16% say it should be banned nationally
- Same-sex marriage: 45% legal nationally, 21% left to the states, 20% banned nationally
- Marijuana: 45% legal nationally, 21% left to the states, 20% banned nationally
- Physician-assisted suicide: 32% legal nationally, 23% left to the states, 23% banned nationally
- Prostitution: 25% legal nationally, 29% left to the states, 28% banned nationally
- Automatic weapons: 22% legal nationally, 23% left to the states, 40% banned nationally
On all but one of the six issues polled about, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say the decision should be left up to the states. Less than 25% of Democrats say any of the policies asked about should be decided at the state level, while at least 30% of Republicans say each policy should be.
Abortion is the only issue polled which a majority of Republicans with an opinion say should be decided by the states rather than nationally. On four other policies – same-sex marriage, marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, and prostitution – Republicans are more likely to say the decision should be made nationally, and most of those who prefer national authority over the issue say it should be banned rather than legalized. Automatic weapons are the only issue polled for which Republicans are more likely to favor national legalization as opposed to a national ban.
Nearly two-thirds of Democrats say abortion, same-sex marriage, and marijuana should be legal nationally. Fewer say physician-assisted suicide and prostitution should be legal nationally, though more say this than say these issues should be decided by the states or banned nationally. Most Democrats say automatic weapons should be banned nationally, while far fewer say they should be legal nationally or that the decision should be left to the states.
— Linley Sanders contributed to this article
This poll was conducted on May 8 - 10, 2022, among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll