WHY ARE THE "PRO-CHOICE" NUMBERS DOWN? I THINK I KNOW
This is getting a lot of attention:
"Pro-Choice" Americans at Record-Low 41%
The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as "pro-choice" is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves "pro-life," one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.
Why is this happening? Well, I've written about this several times, most recently a year ago. For me it always comes back to the theory articulated in this L.A. Times article from 2000:
Typically when abortion rights are threatened, support for legal abortion rises, according to polling experts.
In the last decade, for example, previous polls show support for Roe peaking at 56% around 1991, when the decision was under attack across the country....
In 1992, the Supreme Court issued a decision upholding Roe, with some modifications. The same year, Clinton, an abortion rights supporter, was elected president. Both events appeared to reassure people there would be no dramatic changes in abortion policy. Subsequently, support for Roe began to decline.
In a 1996 poll, 46% of respondents endorsed Roe vs. Wade. By 1999, support had slipped slightly to 43%....
Look at the graph. Notice when the numbers were almost as much in the "pro-life" direction as they are now: 2009, just after the pro-choice Barack Obama took office. Abortion rights seemed safe, so people drifted away from the "pro-choice" self-identification.
Now look at the last time "pro-choice" beat "pro-life": 2011, a few months after the overwhelmingly anti-abortion GOP class of 2010 took their oaths of office in Congress, state houses, and state legislatures. Abortion right seemed under threat, so more people decided they were pro-choice.
What's going on now? Well, President Obama has recently gone out of his way to make sure you know he's a champion of reproductive rights. And another Gallup poll taken this month says that Americans believe Obama will win reelection, by a landslide 56%-36% margin.
So Americans think Obama will be president for four more years, therefore abortions right aren't threatened. And again they're drifting out of the "pro-choice" camp.
But just you wait: If Mitt Romney wins, "pro-choice" will be beating "pro-life" again.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)