NRL News

Of all places, CNN writes comprehensively about abortion polling

by | Jul 19, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

When outlets such as CNN figure out that “Support for abortion rights depends on how you ask the question,” you can’t help but wonder what discovery is next? Perhaps that the sun rises in the east?

But enough of that. Grace Sparks should be given credit for acknowledging what we’ve been saying for about, say, 30 years. And that is (and this is my wording) you can fix the results not by out-and-out lying but by choosing not to make even a token effort at complexity.

#1. Sparks starts with a very keen point.

All polling used below is from Gallup. Due to question wording and methodological differences, using one pollster to compare numbers is the best way to ensure consistency.

True, but also Gallup is to be praised for going the extra step which assists anyone genuinely interested in what abortions a majority of the public will accept. For example,

There are a few ways to frame the number of people who say abortion should be legal or illegal. Technically, in the most recent Gallup poll, conducted in late May, 79% think that abortion should be legal under any or certain circumstances. However, out of that, a plurality are saying it should only be legal in a few circumstances (50%), with three-in-10 saying it should be legal in any. Only 18% said abortion should be illegal in all circumstance

I went back to the Gallup poll and the 50% is actually 53%.

The result is that 43% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all (29%) or most (14%) circumstances, while a majority of 53% say it should be legal in only a few (35%) or no circumstances (18%). [Underlining is mine.]

But the point is there is a majority (53%) that says abortion should not be legal in any circumstance (18%) or “only in a few” (35%). To the best of my knowledge “few” has never been teased out, but it likely means the “hard” cases of life of mother, rape, or incest.

#2. What about overturning Roe? There’s always been majority support for overturning Roe. Of course, only a fraction of the population that are not pro-life activists have the slightest idea of the breadth of the abortion “liberty.” They have no idea, for instance, that a woman can essentially abort as late in pregnancy as she can find an abortionist to do it.

Again Sparks is fair:

But it’s hard to compare support for legalized abortion to support for keeping or overturning Roe v. Wade since it’s comparing a black-and-white choice versus shades of gray and the question wording seems to influence the answers.

#3. What about self-identified pro-life versus pro-choice? Let’s take her explanation in reverse order:

More people consistently said they were “pro-choice” than pro-life” from 1995 through 2009, with one point in 2001 when the two terms were tied.

Absolutely true, and sometimes the margin was as large as 11 points. How about now? Sparks writes

In Gallup’s most recent poll on the topic in May, 48% of Americans said they’re “pro-choice,” and the exact same amount saying they’re “pro-life.”

That May poll reflects the highest percentage of people saying they’re “pro-life” since 2013. Those who said they were “pro-life” dropped between 2013 and 2014, and has moved back up since then.

Nice job.

Categories: Polling