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Abortion issue grows in significance, latest Pew Survey concludes

by | Sep 24, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

A survey released today by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press confirms the wisdom of not believing two conventional wisdoms about the 2012 presidential election: that the electorate is sewed up—for pro-life Mitt Romney or for pro-abortion President Barack Obama—and that abortion is not an important issue.

Of course neither is emphasized in the Pew narrative, but that’s okay.

“Roughly one-in-five voters (22%) are considered swing voters, either because they are undecided or haven’t fully committed to Obama or Romney,” Pew rights. Note the next sentence and ask yourself which candidate this most likely favors. “For the most part their priorities are in line with those of all registered voters: Fully 85% of swing voters view the economy as a very important voting issue, followed by education and jobs (74%).”

22%! Some surveys would have you believe the figure is in the low single digits. I would speculate that the number is higher than 22%, for all the reasons we have talked about many times in this space.

By the second paragraph, Pew is telling us what we would have anticipated: “[T]he latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 12-16 among 3,019 adults, including 2,424 registered voters, finds that several other issues have declined in importance since 2008.” Issues obviously rise and fall in importance to (in this case) registered voters (as opposed to likely voters).

Guess which issue is one that has NOT gone down in importance? Abortion, particularly among women (by a 3-2 margin over men)!

Specifically,  voters were asked in both 2008 and 2012 what issues are “very important to their vote.” In 2008, 39% said abortion. Now it is 46%, the largest single jump among any of the 12 categories listed by Pew.

“Women are far more likely than men to rate several issues as very important, including abortion and health care,” Pew explains. “More than half of women (54%) say the issue of abortion will be very important in their voting decision, compared with 36% of men.

Pro-abortionists will point to one other result in the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey: that abortion is “very important” to the vote of 46% of Romney voters to 49% of Obama voters. Two things about that.

The survey does not ask which issue is the “most important.” If it had, my educated guess is the results would be very similar to what we found in 2008.

Four years ago, among the 5% those who said abortion was the most important issues, John McCain secured 4.5% to 0.5% for Obama—a net advantage of four and a half points!

One other result that is not our issue but very illuminating. The two candidates are identified with diametrically opposed views on the size of government—Romney for a smaller government, Obama for a larger government.

“The survey also finds that far more voters continue to favor a smaller government with fewer services than a bigger government that provides more services,” Pew writes. “Currently, 56% say they would rather have a smaller government providing fewer services; 35% prefer a bigger government. These opinions have changed little over the course of Obama’s presidency.” Note the kicker: “In October 2008, however, opinion was more evenly divided (46% smaller government vs. 40% bigger government).”

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Categories: Polling