John on May 15, 2009 at 7:44 pm
Gallup released a new poll today which showed, for the first time, that a majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life:
A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and 42% “pro-choice.” This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.
The new results, obtained from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.
The May 2009 survey documents comparable changes in public views about the legality of abortion. In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion.
The LA Times, to its credit, ran the story. The NY Times gave it a link and a brief mention in the Friday Opinionator column. Author Tobin Harshaw (who still hasn’t corrected his error crediting Patterico for our video clip last Friday) then links to Chris Good’s reaction at the Atlantic (note: Tobin misatributes the Atlantic post to Marc Ambinder, so I guess misatribution is his signature or something).
Chris Good considers the shift to the right on the “fringes” to be not that significant and instead focuses on the slight shift to the left in the mushy middle of the poll:
Breaking down the middle numbers further, Gallup actually found a shift to the left from last year. Most people in the middle believe abortion should be legal “only in a few circumstances,” while relatively few believe it should be legal “under most circumstances”–but that has shifted a bit, with “few circumstances” dropping three percentage points and “most circumstances” picking up two. The breakdown is now 37 percent to 15 percent in favor of “only in a few circumstances.”
At first it sounds plausible, but a sharp commenter named Eric makes a good point in response:
You said that there were more people believing that abortion should never be legal and fewer saying it should be legal, and then point out that the middle group has actually moved to the left. I think this still suggests a pro-life move in the country (in as far as the poll is accurate). It’s unlikely that very many moved straight from always be legal to never be legal. That means (again so far as the poll is accurate) that the middle group probably moved to the left because some on the right moved further to the right and some of those who thought abortion should always be legal moved to believing it should sometimes be legal. This likely pushed the middle group to the left, but is still an indication that the country itself is moving to the right a bit on this issue.
That’s it. It’s a real move to the right. People on the far left moved to the moderate left. People on the center right moved to the far right. It’s a rightward tilt.
Prediction: There will be a new poll out Monday contradicting this one. Then, and only then, will the NY Times and other liberal outlets report on the Gallup results.
Category: Pro-Life |