“I believe time and history is on our side”

By Dave Andrusko

On the first day of NRLC 2019, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMasters told a wildly enthusiastic luncheon gathering that “I believe time and history is on our side.” A very recent Gallup poll lends weight to the governor’s declaration.

Never mind the misleading headline– “Majority in U.S. Still Want Abortion Legal, With Limits”–written by Lydia Saad.

Here’s what the results actually show us.

A whopping 60% want abortion legal “only in a few circumstances” (39%) or “illegal in all circumstances” (21%).

That is a big, big jump of 7 points from just one year ago.

There is an overall increased interest in abortion (“at a record high”). That is important but secondary. Look at which side has the largest increase in the percentage of people who will only vote for candidates who agree with them on abortion.

Saad writes

Consistent with all prior Gallup trends on the subject, most Americans say that abortion is not critical to their vote, but the percentage saying they would only vote for a candidate for major office who shares their views on abortion has been inching up over the past decade. The figure is now 29%, compared with 20% when Gallup last asked this in 2016 [Note—an increase of 9 points in just three years], and a low of 13% in 2008.

Meanwhile, the percentages saying a candidate’s position on abortion is just one of many important issues they take into account when voting, or that abortion is not important to their vote, have been trending down — currently at 44% and 26%, respectively.

Not only is the overall percentage of Americans saying that abortion is key to their vote at a record high, but the percentage is at its peak among self-identified “pro-choice” and “pro-life” Americans. [Underlining added.]

So, fewer people say abortion is “just one of many important issues” (or not important at all) and more say a candidate must agree with them on abortion. Who does this benefit? Saad writes

Currently, 26% of pro-choice adults say they will only vote for a candidate who shares their views on abortion, up from 17% in 2016.

However, the matter continues to be more important as a voting issue to pro-life than pro-choice adults, as it has in every Gallup measure since 2004. Thirty-five percent of pro-life adults now say they will only vote for like-minded candidates on the issue, an increase from 23% in 2016. [Underlining added.]

Just to be clear, in 2016 more pro-life adults than pro-choice adults said “they will only vote for a candidate who shares their views on abortion”—23% to 17%–a 6 point advantage.

But in 2019 the gap is even larger–35% to 26%–a nine point advantage.

What about self-identification? In 1996, 56% self-identified as pro-choice to only 37% who self-identified as pro-life. As recently as 2015, 50% identified as pro-choice to 44% who identified as pro-life, Gallup reports.

In 2018, 48% said they were pro-life, 48% said they were pro-choice. Even-steven.

But in 2019, 49% identified as pro-life to 46% who identified as pro-choice.

You’d never know it from Gallup’s headline or the understated way the results are presented, but this year’s results are hugely encouraging.