Gallup has released a useful new report on abortion and public opinion. As the report notes, Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. On the other hand, the public does not favor unrestricted access to abortion, though different questions return different answers on the level of restrictiveness the public actually favors (see my earlier analysis of abortion and public opinion).
The sensitivity of public opinion on abortion rights to quesetion wording suggests that the politics of the issue are particularly sensitive to how it is framed in political debate. As Alan Abramowitz observes:
I think that these results [from the Gallup poll], and similar results from other polls, help to explain how Republicans have been able to use the abortion issue to their advantage in recent elections by downplaying the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade while emphasizing support for restrictions on abortion such as the ban on “partial birth” abortions, parental consent, waiting periods, etc. Liberals are now associated with the idea of “abortion on demand” which is opposed by a majority of the public. As long as there doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger that Roe will be overturned, liberals are likely to remain on the defensive on the issue of abortion.
Food for thought….