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NRL News
Page 21
June 2010
Volume 37
Issue 6

Pro-Life” Is Now the “New Normal,” Gallup Says

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortionists offer explanations as twisted as pretzels, but none of them change the undeniable fact that more people self-identify as “pro-life” than “pro-choice” and that this represents a real turnaround. Based on the results of three consecutive polls, self-identifying as “pro-life” is now the “new normal,” according to senior Gallup editor Lydia Saad.

The results of a May 3–6, 2010, poll showed that “[s]lightly more Americans call themselves ‘pro-life’ than ‘pro-choice’”—47% vs. 45%. This is virtually identical to results from last July (47% to 46%) “following a more strongly pro-life advantage of 51% to 42% last May,” Saad reported.

There are many important messages coming out of Gallup’s work over the past year on the abortion issue. First, “While the two-percentage-point gap in current abortion views is not significant,” Saad writes, “it represents the third consecutive time Gallup has found more Americans taking the pro-life than pro-choice position on this measure since May 2009, suggesting a real change in public opinion. By contrast, in nearly all readings on this question since 1995, and each survey from 2003 to 2008, more Americans called themselves pro-choice than pro-life.” (Emphasis added.)

Second, as Gallup has pointed out repeatedly, Republicans increasingly self-identify as pro-life and Democrats pro-abortion, according to two-year averages of results since 2001. Republicans have jumped from 57% self-identified pro-life in 2003–04 to 68% in 2009–10. Meanwhile, “Democrats’ self-identification with the pro-life position has moved in the other direction, declining from 37% in 2003/2004 to 31% in 2009/2010,” according to Saad.

Without wading too deep into the statistical weeds, “Republican-leaning independents have become more likely to call themselves pro-life since 2005/2006.” By contrast, “Among independents who lean Democratic, there has been no movement in either direction,” Saad writes.

How about Independents who lean to neither party? They “also became more likely to call themselves ‘pro-life’ between 2003/2004 and 2005/2006, but have since held steady,” according to Saad.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, not only do more men and more women say they are pro-life, “All age groups have become more attached to the pro-life label since 2005, with particularly large increases among young adults and those aged 50 to 64 years in the latest period between 2007/2008 and 2009/2010,” Saad writes.

In 2003–04, for example, 40% of 18-to 29-year-olds identified them-selves as pro-life. By 2009–10, that figure had jumped to 47%.

When it comes to explanations why “the pro-life label has become increasingly dominant among Republicans and to a lesser degree among independents, while the pro-choice label has become more dominant among Democrats,” Saad has only one to offer. “The trends by party identification suggest that increased political polarization may be a factor in Republicans’ preference for the ‘pro-life’ label, particularly since Barack Obama took office.”

Absolutely true. Obama has a full-time army of “impartial” reporters trying to explain away the obvious fact that he is a highly polarizing figure. But, of course, there is much more to this shift in opinion that we have written about in NRL News and in our blogs. (See “Today’s News and Views” and “National Right to Life News Today.”)

Collective, they explain why Gallup would find a 23% self-identifying as pro-choice majority in 1995 (56% to 33%) has completely evaporated to be replaced by a pro-life plurality.

Pro-abortionists, grasping at straws, tried everything to explain the pro-life trend. My favorite was concocted by Jessica Grose’s writing in Slate: pro-abortion President Barack Obama!

Grose looks to political scientist Nathanial Persily who, she writes, “attributes the shift toward the pro-life label to Obama’s softening of the language of Democratic support for abortion. Obama said about abortion in 2008 during his campaign that ‘there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we’re having these debates.’

For those in the mushy middle on abortion, hearing a president—even one who identifies as pro-choice—question the morality of abortion might scare them away from Planned Parenthood benefits,” according to Grose.

There are other equally foolish explanations and a couple of polls that she misreads and/or exaggerates. Sorry, Ms. Grose, nice try but your explanations won’t fly. The American public is growing more and more pro-life: women and men, young and old.