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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

More Evidence of Stable Pro-Choice Majority

Note: this is a guest post from Alan Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University, and a member of the TDS Advisory Board. It’s a follow-up to his May 20 post on public opinion about abortion.
We have more evidence on current public opinion on the issue of abortion from a new CBS/New York Times poll. The survey, which was conducted from June 12-16, asked respondents to choose one of three options–abortion should be generally available to those who want it, abortion should be available but with stricter limts than now, or abortion should not be permitted. 36 percent of respondents wanted abortion to be generally available, 41 percent wanted it available with stricter limits, and 21 percent wanted it prohibited. Three percent of respondents were undecided.
These results were almost identical to those obtained in numerous CBS/NYT polls over the past 16 years. The CBS/NYT poll asked this question 16 times between January of 1993 and September of 2008. In those 16 surveys the average results were 36 percent for the first option, 39 percent for the second option, and 22 percent for the third option.
In addition to this result, the new CBS/NYT poll found that 62 percent of respondents considered the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion “a good thing” for the country while only 32 percent considered the decision “a bad thing” for the country. And 64 percent of respondents said they did not want the decision to be overturned by the Court compared with only 29 percent who did.
Taken together, these results demonstrate that (a) there is no evidence of any substantial shift in public opinion on the issue of abortion and (b) a solid majority of the American public continue to support the Surpreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Since overturning Roe remains the main goal of the “pro-life” movement, these results clearly indicate that a large majority of Americans do not support the “pro-life” agenda.

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