NRL News

Surprise, surprise! abortion IS a major issue in 2012 elections, Gallup reports

by | Oct 4, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Gallup headlined its important story today, “Abortion Is Threshold Issue for One in Six U.S. Voters,” which is true—clearly true. Less true–decidedly less true–is the subhead: “Nearly as many single-issue abortion voters are pro-choice as pro-life.”

Whatever else Gallup gets right or wrong, the survey reminds us that abortion is a very important issue yet again!

This is going to take a little bit of deconstructing so please hang with me.

#1. Lydia Saad leads her story

“Economic policy may be dominating this year’s presidential campaign, but the abortion issue appears no less relevant to U.S. registered voters than usual. Seventeen percent say they will vote only for candidates for major office who share their own views on abortion, one of the higher rates of abortion-centric voting seen in presidential election years since 1992.”

So far, so good.

#2. “Gallup finds slightly more pro-life voters than pro-choice voters saying they will vote only for a candidate who shares their views, 21% vs. 15%. That represents 9% and 7%, respectively, of all voters — a slight pro-life tilt, albeit one that could potentially benefit pro-life Republican candidate Mitt Romney.”

As we shall see that underestimates what has been called the “pro-life increment.”  Nonetheless, a +2 for pro-life Mitt Romney in a race that will likely be decided by a razor-thin margin could well be pivotal. (More about this below.)

#3. But the impact of the abortion extends beyond those who say they will vote ONLY for someone who shares their views. Gallup gave recipients another two other options, one being abortion is not a major issue. Of the third option, Saad writes

“Additionally, by 49% to 43%, pro-life voters are a bit more likely than pro-choice voters to say they will consider a candidate’s position on abortion as one of many important factors in arriving at their vote choice. That means pro-choice voters are more likely than pro-life voters to say abortion is not a major issue to them.”

Or, to put it affirmatively, pro-lifer voters are more likely than are pro-choice voters to say abortion IS a major issue to them.

To return to the single-issue voter who will vote only for the candidate who agrees with them on abortion, there are two ancillary points.  With the exception of 2004, the pro-life increment, according to Gallup, is +2. In 2008, for example, there were 7% who were single-issue pro-life voters to 5% single-issue pro-choice voters.

In Saad’s words,

“Notably, the current percentages of all registered voters who indicate they are single-issue pro-choice or pro-life voters are similar to what Gallup found in each of the last four presidential election years. In each case, abortion-centric pro-life voters slightly outnumbered abortion-centric pro-choice voters, although this gap was somewhat wider in 2004.”

Actually the percentage is higher. But the larger point is that in 2012—after being told for a year that abortion would be a non-factor–one in six voters say they will vote only for the candidate who agrees with them on abortion. So much (yet again) for the conventional wisdom which is always to tell us that abortion is not important.

In fact, abortion is a larger issue than in any election since 1996—except for 2004 when a total of 17% were single-issue abortion voters (12% pro-life, 5% pro-choice). That’s point number one.

Point number two, when the work of NRL PAC is factored in, the increment will be larger. Why do I say that? Because Gallup concludes that typically single-issue pro-life voters  enjoy a two point advantage over single-issue pro-choice voters.

Yet when NRL PAC conducts post-election polls, the margin is always larger than +2. Why? Because of what NRL PAC has accomplished.

In other words, there is no reason to believe that pro-life candidates  in 2012 won’t receive what is oft-times a crucial boost BECAUSE they are pro-life.

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Categories: Polling