Continued improvement in the percentage of Americans who identify as Pro-Life

By Dave Andrusko

Yesterday NRL News Today carried a story about the vastly under-reported truth that a poll that appeared in the Texas Tribune showed both a whopping support for a ban on abortions after 20 weeks (62%) and a 3-2 advantage for those Texans who thought there are ought to be more abortion restrictions than fewer.

Today, more news that the pro-life position is rebounding from the artificially low position it occupied leading up to and after the November elections.

Understand that Rasmussen, for whatever reason, always shows a lower percentage of self-identified pro-lifers than, say, Gallup does. Today Rasmussen showed 43% describing themselves as pro-life versus 46% who described themselves as pro-choice. (Gallup, most recently, found 48% saying they considered themselves pro-life to 45% pro-choice.)

But consider the “rest of the story.”

First, this is the highest measure of pro-life sentiment Rasmussen has found in three years.

Second, it is an increase of 7 points just since January!

Third, and crucially, if you look at those voters who said the abortion issue was “very important,” 58% were pro-life to only 39% pro-choice—the familiar “intensity gap” that has long characterized voting behavior on abortion.

This bounce back is part and parcel of a larger pro-life public opinion comeback.

Prof. Michael New, writing at National Review Online, observes, “Three separate surveys by Rasmussen, Gallup, and NBC/Wall Street Journal show that support for the pro-life position has increased anywhere from four to eight percentage points since January.”

NRL News has examined the recent shifts in public opinion in detail. (See http://nrlc.cc/15fngL4 and http://nrlc.cc/13MRLvf.)

We know, for example, that the January 2013, Gallup poll found that a total of 58% of the American public believes that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (20%) or legal in only a few circumstances (38%). In other words, nearly 6 in ten Americans disapprove of the reasons almost all abortions are performed!

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And, contrary to media stereotypes, responses from men and women were almost exactly the same. Twenty percent of each sex says abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Thirty nine percent of men and thirty seven percent of women told Gallup abortion should be legal only “in a few circumstances.”

What’s even more intriguing is the response of those ages 18-34. Again, almost identical to the sample as a whole except that 3% more (23%) say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. (34% say legal only “in a few circumstances.”)

Another nugget. A total of 59% of self-identified Independents say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (22%) or legal only in a few circumstances (37%).

One other fascinating insight from the Gallup poll. What would the self-identification figures be if Americans did not think most of us are “pro-choice”– by a whopping 16 point margin (51% to 35%)—that includes even pro-lifers? It simply is a fact of human nature that if you have firmly thought your position through, you could easily be persuaded to follow the sentiment you (incorrectly) believe the majority holds.