Thursday, May 19, 2022


A new poll confirms that most Americans want abortion to remain legal:
About two-thirds of Americans say they do not support overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in the United States, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
Most Americans support some restrictions on abortion -- but they oppose the most draconian laws that are on the books in Republican states or are likely to be passed.

The poll asked respondents several questions in this form:
The following are possible changes to abortion laws in several states around the country. Please tell me if you support or oppose ...
Here are the results, in decreasing order of popularity:
a law that allows abortion at any time during pregnancy if it is necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person: support 82%, oppose 16

a law that would provide safe haven for people seeking abortions from out of state: support 63%, oppose 33%

a law that allows abortion at any time during pregnancy in cases of rape or incest: support 63%, oppose 35%

a law that allows abortions, but only up to 15 weeks of pregnancy except for medical emergencies or when there is something severely wrong with the fetus: support 48%, oppose 49%

a law that allows prescription drugs that induce an abortion to be sent through the mail: support 47%, oppose 51%

a law that allows abortions, but only up to the time there is viability outside the womb at about 24 weeks: support 34%, oppose 60%

a law that allows abortions, but only up to the time cardiac activity is detected about 6 to 8 weeks into pregnancy: support 27%, oppose 69%

a law that makes it a crime requiring fines and/or prison time for doctors who perform abortions: support 21%, oppose 75%
And now for the least popular of all the proposals surveyed:
a law that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who assists a pregnant person in getting an abortion: support 17%, oppose 80%
Nobody likes this idea: 69% of Republicans oppose it, as do 67% of Trump voters, 69% of white male non-college graduates, 78% of rural voters, and even 69% of Evangelical Christians.

And yet Greg Abbott, the governor who signed a bill to make this the law in the seemingly purple state of Texas, has led in every reelection poll against a popular, well-financed challenger, according to Real Clear Politics. He's currently averaging a lead of 6.7 points.

Maybe political success isn't the result of having the most popular policies. Maybe Will Stancil is right:
Politicians and political thinkers, particularly in liberal circles, often talk about elections and politics as if they are centered around a handful of core topics: the economy, health care, immigration, taxes. Voters don’t care about the day-to-day drama of Washington, D.C., this theory says. Instead, their attention is focused on an unchanging set of issues — mostly things that affect their personal lives. The way to win these voters over, the reasoning continues, is to propose policies that will address these core concerns....

That means no self-respecting Democrat would be caught dead without a detailed policy platform. Media appearances and campaign ads are treated as opportunities to zero in on topics that “everyday Americans care about,” not to fulminate against opponents or pick culture-war battles. This produces campaigns built around sober, economically oriented and slightly dull themes: prescription drug pricing, or how many jobs a new law will produce....

Across the aisle, obviously, a different ethos has prevailed. Republicans have adopted an aggressive, freewheeling politics that tends to center anything sufficiently lurid, enraging, frightening or energizing: Socialism, “the caravan,” Ebola, Doctor Seuss, critical race theory. The list goes on and on.

... election results do not suggest that Democrats have a smarter approach. The party has run slightly ahead in most recent elections, but hardly by a margin that suggests they have a powerful fundamental advantage — and certainly not enough to consistently overcome the structural hurdles facing them in the Senate and Electoral College.
Or as David Roberts characterizes the two parties:

Republicans support unpopular proposals -- on abortion, guns, the minimum wage, taxation of the rich, the elimination of public schools -- yet it's the Democrats who are terrified that some policy ideas that some party members support, or perhaps supported at one time, will lead to the party's complete and utter ruin at the ballot box. Republicans never worry about this, and they apparently never need to. Supporting unpopular stuff doesn't seem to hurt them, because they support it at the top of their lungs. Voters may not agree with the policies, but they respond to the righteous indignation and the sheer lack of self-doubt. Perhaps Democrats should try supporting good policies with that level of self-confidence.

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