Looking Ahead to 2012

The Pro-Life Advantage for Candidates Continues, Including among Independents

By Karen Cross

Since 1975, Gallup has sponsored polls to measure public opinion on abortion. While analyzing Gallup’s 2011 Values and Beliefs survey conducted May 5–8, 2011, several encouraging details emerged.

First, and foremost, Americans’ attitudes toward abortion continue their pro-life shift.

In 2008, 57% of Americans held pro-life positions—abortion legal in only a few circumstances or illegal in all. By 2011, that number had increased another four percent.

A total of 61% of respondents said abortion should either be legal in only a few circumstances (39%) or illegal in all circumstances (22%). That compares with a total of 37% who said either that abortion should be legal in all circumstances (27%) or under most circumstances (10%).

Further analysis of the new Gallup poll pointed out additional key findings. Not surprisingly, self-identified Republicans are much more pro-life (79% hold pro-life views) and self-identified Democrats are much more pro-abortion (44% hold pro-life views).

There are important results from the segment of the population that everyone is after—Independents. Pro-life candidates are continually warned that their pro-life stance will hurt a candidate with this large, and growing larger, segment of the voting public.

In fact their numbers closely mirror the national numbers. According to Gallup, 60% of self-identified Independents hold pro-life views saying that abortion should either be legal only in a few circumstances (42%) or illegal in all (18%).

Lesson? Candidates can and should talk about their pro-life convictions for the same reason we have discussed for years: most Americans are much closer to where we are on abortion than to the pro-abortion side.

This pro-life advantage is not new, even if it is “new” to many political commentators. In fact, election after election since 1980, National Right to Life has seen a definite advantage for pro-life candidates over pro-abortion candidates in post-election polling. Pro-life candidates benefit because the American people are pro-life; most Americans are opposed to the vast majority of abortions.

Because of this, National Right to Life Political Action Committee has an impressive track record. In 2010, National Right to Life PAC actively worked in 130 federal races nationwide. Of those, we won 88.

The results for Gallup’s 2011 Values and Beliefs survey were based on phone interviews with 1,018 adults nationwide and have a margin of error of +/- 4%.

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