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Story on CBS News poll both misleading and incomplete

by | Aug 29, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-Life Mitt Romney and his pro-life running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.

If you read the results of a recent CBS News poll carefully, you will come away with a far different impression (and with much more information) than intended by a story headlined, “Poll: abortion views not a litmus test for most voters.”

First, and not mentioned in the story that accompanies the poll, is that nearly half of voters nationwide are satisfied with Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan. Specifically, 17% are enthusiastic about the selection and 32% are satisfied—a total of 49%.

What’s missing?  That only 27% are dissatisfied or angry (5%)—a total of 32%.

In other words Romney is enjoying an overall 3-2 positive advantage (49% to 32%) and a more than 3-1 advantage in intensity (17% enthusiastic to 5% angry). That is very good news no matter how you slice it.

Second, getting back to the headline, there are several comments that indirectly address the question of who could not support a candidate who disagreed with them on abortion. What’s missing?

A simple breakout explaining whether it is pro-lifers or pro-choicers that are more likely not to support a candidate who disagrees with them on abortion.  Every piece of evidence that asks this question concludes that considerably more pro-lifers than pro-choicers refuse to vote for someone who disagrees on abortion—what is known as the pro-life “increment.”

Third, every poll has its own way of characterizing the public’s view on abortion. According to the story, “Nearly half of Americans think abortion should be permitted in all cases or permitted with greater restrictions than it is now. Another 27 percent say abortion should be allowed only in the cases of rape, incest or to save the woman’s life. Another 10 percent think an exception should be made only to save the woman’s life. One in 10 thinks abortion should never be permitted. “

What’s missing?

On the one hand, that the “nearly half” consists of 35% who say abortion should be permitted in all cases and another 13% who say “permitted with greater restrictions.”

On the other hand a total of nearly half—47%–say abortion should permitted for only  rape, incest or to save the woman’s life (27%); only to save the woman’s life (10%); or not at all (another 10%).

If you add that 47% to the 13% who say abortion should be permitted but with “great restrictions,” you have a total of 60% who oppose the current state of abortion on demand.

Categories: Polling