Many Republican insiders continue to push the narrative that the GOP lost in 2012 because of the Hispanic vote and social issues, rather than because a badly broken Republican nomination process produced a candidate who didn’t emphasize Obamacare and didn’t motivate downscale rural white Americans to vote. In light of this ongoing debate, it’s worth revisiting Gallup’s illuminating polling on abortion.
Gallup’s most recent polling on the issue, taken this spring, indicates that more Americans actually regard themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.” According to the poll, 48 percent of Americans say they are “pro-life,” while 45 percent say they are “pro-choice.” What’s more, opposition to abortion is rather plainly on the rise, as those numbers were effectively flipped ten years ago — and as, in the mid-1990s, the number of people who considered themselves “pro-choice” outpaced the number who considered themselves “pro-life” by about 20 percentage points.
Another finding from Gallup’s polling, however, is perhaps even more illuminating. Those who work in America’s newsrooms are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion’s legality, and they tend to report the issue as if anyone who opposes abortion is a fringe religious fanatic. (Moreover, they rarely miss an opportunity to subtly editorialize by describing opponents of abortion as being against “abortion rights.”) It’s telling, therefore, that while Gallup’s polling indicates that a plurality of Americans are pro-life, Gallup’s respondents guessed that only about a third of their fellow Americans share those pro-life sentiments.
When asked, “What is your impression of how most Americans feel about abortion — do you think most Americans are pro-choice or pro-life?,” only 35 percent said they think most of their fellow Americans are pro-life, while 51 percent said they think most of their fellow Americans are pro-choice. That 16-point gap represents a whopping 19-point swing from how their fellow Americans described themselves.