Another bogus abortion poll from the New York Times

By Dave Andrusko

As part of a larger pro-abortion effort to derail the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, we read story after story purporting to tell us what huge grassroots support there is for abortion.

Here’s the latest which appeared (to no one’s surprise) in the New York Times.

Let’s dig in, including the crosstabs.

The results of all abortion polls depend on how the question is asked and if there are follow up questions. The blunter—the more unnuanced—the larger the level of support appears to be. 

When, as Gallup has for years, you don’t settle for the obvious, you find that a majority of the population opposes the reasons well over 90% of abortions are performed.

Here’s the wording of NYT/Siena College Poll of 950 Likely Voters

Do you think abortion should be always legal, mostly legal, mostly illegal, or always illegal?


  • Always legal — 31% 
  • Mostly legal—–29% 
  • Mostly illegal —19% 
  • Always illegal–14%  

A few observations.

If you ask those who say abortion should “always” be legal about “late” abortions or abortions because a woman simply doesn’t want to be pregnant, or many other reasons, that number drops. There is no context to their answer, so their responses are untethered by real experiences.

Also, what does “mostly legal” even mean?

Gallup’s results (published June 23) from its “Values and Beliefs” poll reported that Gallup’s latest “Values and Beliefs poll” found in a random survey of adults conducted by telephone May 1-13, that a total of 55% said abortion should be legal “only in a few circumstances” (35%) or “illegal in all circumstances” (20%).

Why the startling difference?

Ever since 1994, as veteran Gallup analyst Lydia Saad points out, Gallup has “asked those who think abortion should be legal under certain circumstances to say whether it should be legal in ‘most’ or ‘only a few’ circumstances. Most say “only a few circumstances.”

As always, take most abortion polls with a pound of salt.