May 27, 2014
Abortion Polls and Hidden Conservatism
By Bruce Walker
I have written a great deal about the solid conservative majority in America. Most conservatives seem to think that Americans describe themselves as “conservative” when in fact they are not – but polling data on the public policy question of abortion shows that this is not true. In fact, this data strongly suggests what I have long suspected: many Americans decline to call themselves “conservative” when in fact they are conservative. When we grasp the madness and wickedness of leftism, this makes sense. No sane or moral person could ascribe to that that toxic misology.
What do people mean when they call themselves “conservative”? Most polls that dig deeper into the character of this conservatism – i.e., by breaking the broad category of “conservative” into “fiscal” and “social” – relate that more Americans call themselves “fiscal conservative” than “social conservative.”
What issues do “social conservative” respondents care about the most? The litmus-test issue for the last four decades has been abortion. So if “social conservative” is the smaller group of conservatives, and if abortion is the single most important issue to these conservatives, and if my proposition that America is overwhelmingly conservative is false, then an analysis of abortion polling should show that social conservatives are a minority of Americans. But that is not the case at all.
The disjunction in understanding comes when we allow the leftist establishment, which controls the connective tissue of the public mind, to form each question, to interpret each response, and to present as conclusions what pleases its bigotries – a condition of which all conservatives who think must surely be aware. We ought to expect this in polling about abortion, and this is just what we find.
Gallup came out with a poll in late May 2014 that relates that 47% of Americans consider themselves “pro-choice,” while 46% consider themselves “pro-life.” This same poll, however, reveals that Americans have these positions on abortion: 21% think it should always be illegal; 37% think it should be illegal except in a few rare circumstances; 11% believe abortion should be legal most of the time; and 28% believe that it should always be legal.
American criminal law prior to Roe v. Wade, the decision which created the pro-life movement, varied from state to state, but nearly always it allowed abortion in those three special instances that Gallup Poll question considers: rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Texas law, which was tested in Roe v. Wade, allowed abortion in the case of rape. So although only 46% of Americans in that poll call themselves “pro-life,” at least 59% of Americans in that poll are “pro-life.”
Even more interesting, every Gallup Poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly reject “overturning Roe v. Wade,” by 53% to 29% in the last Gallup Poll to ask the question. But the 59% of Americans who oppose abortion except in a few instances support overturning Roe v. Wade, and, in fact, the 11% who do not favor abortion on demand also support overturning Roe v. Wade – or at least dramatically limiting that Supreme Court decision.
Two months earlier, a CNN poll on abortion showed exactly the same breakdown of Americans: 59% of Americans believe that abortion should be either illegal (20%) or legal only in case of rape, in case of incest, or when the life of the mother in danger (39%). Only 27% percent of Americans accept the Democratic Party position of abortion on demand.
Every poll over the last decade shows the same pattern. A CBS poll in July 2013 shows overwhelmingly (61% to 37%) that Americans want more limits on abortion, which is possible only if Roe v. Wade is overturned. NBC/Wall Street Journal in April 2013 showed a huge gap between those who believe that abortion should always be legal (26%) and those who want strict limits or no abortions (52%). Respondents who thought that they were pro-choice are actually pro-life, and those who thought that they supported Roe v. Wade actually oppose the decision.
Even though every single Battleground Poll – twenty-two separate polls in fourteen years – has shown that self-described conservatives are the overwhelming majority of America, the percentage of Americans who are actually conservative may be significantly higher, because the leftist establishment has grossly distorted what the pro-life and social conservative position is on abortion.
How much should abortion matter in counting up conservatives and liberals in America? The left has made abortion its litmus test. Supreme Court nominees, presidential nominees – anyone, really, who wants the left’s support for office – must slavishly adopt the party line on abortion. By the left’s own rhetoric, these abortion polls must matter a great deal. Why, I wonder, are conservatives so reluctant to see how many of their countrymen believe the same things about politics and government that they do?