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Gallup finds ever-increasing pro-life advantage among voters who base their vote solely on a candidate’s position on abortion

by | Jul 7, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

Gallup’s headline is accurate—“One in Four Americans Consider Abortion a Key Voting Issue” — and reinforces what we already know: people look to a candidate’s position on whether they support annihilating unborn children when they are determining whom they will vote for.

And to Megan Brenan’s and Gallup’s credit, right in the subhead you read the key takeaways: 

  • 24% say candidate must share abortion views; 25% say not a major issue
  • 30% of pro-life, 19% of pro-choice adults say abortion is threshold issue.

By “threshold issue,” Gallup means that the individual would “vote only for a candidate who shares their views on abortion.” Single-issue voting on abortion is alive and well.

Indeed, far from fading as a litmus test, the percentage of Americans who consider abortion a threshold issue is on an upward swing. Brenan writes [underlining mine]

Gallup has periodically tracked Americans’ views of the importance of abortion in their vote choice since 1996. Last year’s 29% reading for those who say a candidate must share their views on abortion to win their support was the highest on record. Before that, from 1996 to 2016, the annual average was 18%.

The latest findings, from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll conducted May 1-13, show the continuation of a trend seen since 2001 whereby Americans who consider themselves to be pro-life are more likely than those who identify as pro-choice to say abortion is a threshold issue.

While these groups have placed varying degrees of importance on the abortion issue in the past, the gap in their views has widened. Currently, 30% of those in the pro-life camp and 19% in the pro-choice camp say they are single-issue voters when it comes to abortion. …

Examining one of the charts, you see that four years ago, 23% of pro-lifers voted single-issue to 17% of pro-choicers—a gap of 6 points. 

Not only has the overall pool of single-issue voters increased, so, too, has the pro-life advantage.

In 2019, the margin was nine points–35% to 26%.

In 2020, the net advantage jumped to 11 points: 30% to 19%!

Six points, to nine points, to ll points.

One other consideration about the same phenomenon. Brenan hones in on this staple of public opinion, a constant.  

While “Americans’ overall attitudes about abortion have been mostly stable in the past decade, with roughly equal percentages considering themselves pro-choice and pro-life,” she writes, “Those who consider themselves pro-life are significantly more likely than their pro-choice counterparts to say they will vote only for a candidate who shares their views on abortion.”

We wrote about this recently.  It is true that in recent years, the percentage of self-identified pro-lifers and self-identified pro-choicers has almost exactly the same. But consider…

In 1996, 56% self-identified as pro-choice to only 37% who self-identified as pro-life. As recently as 2015, 50% identified as pro-choice to 44% who identified as pro-life, according to Gallup.

In 2020, 48% self-describe themselves as pro-choice while 46% self-identify as pro-life. The average over the past decade has been exactly even: 47% each.

Well done, grassroots pro-lifers.

Categories: Polling