A pro-choice surge
The politics of abortion change

Reuters

Courtney Cole (L), her daughter Mackenzie, 5, from Excelsior Springs, and Doug Carel (R) protest outside of the Missouri Capitol where U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin holds a rally with the New Women's Group in Jefferson City, Missouri September 21, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • Abortion has never been a top voting issue for most people. @RameshPonnuru

    Tweet This

  • Among those people who do vote on abortion pro-lifers have outnumbered pro-choicers. @RameshPonnuru

    Tweet This

  • In 1988, ABC’s exit poll found that 33% of voters considered abortion a “very important” issue in making their decision.

    Tweet This

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the December 31, 2012, print edition of National Review.

No presidential candidate has run a campaign as aggressively supportive of abortion as the one Barack Obama did this year. The fact that he won — and by a bigger margin than any Republican has managed in more than 20 years — suggests that the politics surrounding the issue has changed, to the disadvantage of pro-lifers.

Abortion has never been a top voting issue for most people. Among those people who do vote on abortion, however, pro-lifers have outnumbered pro-choicers. In 1988, ABC’s exit poll found that 33 percent of voters had considered abortion a “very important” issue in making their decision, and they favored George H. W. Bush over Michael Dukakis by a margin of 54 percent to 45 percent. The CBS exit poll that year found 7 percent of the voters saying that it was one of the issues that mattered most, and they had broken 65 percent to 33 percent for the pro-life Republican.

That pro-life advantage persisted in the exit polls of 1992, 1996, and 2000. In that last year, 14 percent of voters in the Los Angeles Times exit poll said abortion was a top issue, and they picked George W. Bush over Al Gore, 58 to 41 percent. The exit pollsters stopped asking the question after that election, but other polls have almost always found the same pattern. Gallup has concluded that the issue of abortion has won Republicans a net 2 percent of the total vote in every presidential election from 1996 until today, except for 2004, when it netted them 7 percent. The Polling Company, a conservative firm hired by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), found that 25 percent of voters in 2008 identified opposition to abortion as having affected their vote, compared with 9 percent who said support for legal abortion affected theirs.

The full text of this article is available by subscription to National Review

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Ramesh
Ponnuru

What's new on AEI

Study: Piketty tax plan would boost equality by making rich less rich. But poor would be poorer, too
image Rep. McCaul’s cybersecurity information sharing center: If you build it, will they come?
image Halbig and its aftermath
image Culture of how Washington pays for medical care
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 28
    MON
  • 29
    TUE
  • 30
    WED
  • 31
    THU
  • 01
    FRI
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Is Medicare's future secure? The 2014 Trustees Report

Please join AEI as the chief actuary for Medicare summarizes the report’s results, followed by a panel discussion of what those spending trends are likely to mean for seniors, taxpayers, the health industry, and federal policy.

Event Registration is Closed
Friday, August 01, 2014 | 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Watergate revisited: The reforms and the reality, 40 years later

Please join us as four of Washington’s most distinguished political observers will revisit the Watergate hearings and discuss reforms that followed.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.