Wednesday, July 10, 2019


The Washington Post reports:
Support for legal abortion stands at its highest level in more than two decades according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, even as numerous states adopt restrictions that challenge the breadth of rights established by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The Post-ABC poll finds a 60 percent majority who say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 55 percent in a 2013 Post-ABC poll, and tying the record high level of support from 1995. The latest survey finds 36 percent say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, also tying a record low.
Paul Waldman writes:
Opinions on abortion tend to move slowly, if at all ... that is, until we enter a period of potential change, when it gets thrust to the forefront of the national debate.

That has been happening lately with the passage of laws in Republican-run states attempting to restrict or virtually ban it outright.

... 73 percent of the public either want to keep abortion access as it is now or make abortions easier to obtain. Only 24 percent say they should be harder to get, which is the position the Republican Party has not only held for a long time but is also ready to put into law.

... And while this broader movement in public opinion isn’t huge, it does suggest that people are becoming aware of what’s actually in the offing in this age of minority Republican rule. And it makes clear that Republican efforts to turn public opinion have failed.
But it doesn't seem to be endangering Republican elected officials, particularly the president -- a man who, as Waldman notes, has been demagoguing this issue:
That might surprise you if you’ve watched President Trump and other Republicans gleefully spread preposterous lies about abortion, such as the idea that women routinely decide on their way to the hospital to give birth that they’d rather have an abortion instead, and then some doctor delivers their baby and kills it. “The baby is born," Trump says, “They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby."

That despicable blood libel is so shocking that it’s natural to assume it has affected people deeply. But in truth, the only ones he convinces are probably those who already want to eliminate abortion rights.
But it doesn't seem to be alienating the vast majority of Americans who believe in some form of abortion rights. As Waldman notes, 41% of Americans want abortion access left as is, and 32% want abortions to be easier to obtain -- and yet a not inconsiderable portion of this group supports Trump and seems prepared to vote for him in 2020, as the Post/ABC poll notes:
... President Trump’s approval rating has risen to the highest point of his presidency....

... he runs even against four possible Democratic nominees in hypothetical ­general-election matchups. He trails decisively only to former vice president Joe Biden.

Trump’s approval rating among voting-age Americans stands at 44 percent, edging up from 39 percent in April, with 53 percent saying they disapprove of him. Among registered voters, 47 percent say they approve of Trump while 50 percent disapprove.

... Among registered voters, only Biden emerges with a clear advantage, leading Trump by 53 percent to 43 percent. Trump runs very close against Harris (46 percent Trump, 48 percent Harris) and Sanders (48 percent Trump, 49 percent Sanders), and he runs even against Warren (both at 48 percent) and Buttigieg (both at 47 percent).
And in the latest Emerson poll, Trump is leading Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg for the first time.

After last month's Democratic debates, there was much hand-wringing over the candidates' support for positions deemed extreme -- decriminalizing border crossings, offering health insurance to undocumented immigrants. The candidates are probably to the left of even the median Democratic voter on these and some other issues.

But Republicans are to the right of even their own voters on abortion, and on quite a few other issues: taxing the rich (it has across-the-board support among the electorate), universal gun background checks (ditto), Obamacare's protections on coverage of pre-existing conditions (ditto). But there's never a perception that tacking too far to the right dooms the GOP to electoral failure. And while we're on the subject of healthcare...

Why is this? Is it because Republicans are better at messaging? Is it because the GOP is the party of white men, who are presumed to be normative even when they aren't? Is it the media's unwillingness to call GOP extremism what it is? All of the above?

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