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OPINION

Public Looking for Clarity From Republicans on All Social Issues

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

With one year since the Dobbs decision, in which the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, how should we be thinking, as a nation, about this crucial issue?

Commentary in the press is conveying that Dobbs was an unpopular decision and that it has strengthened sentiment in the country for legal abortion.

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Per Gallup, 61% say overturning Roe v. Wade was a "bad thing," and 38% say it was a "good thing".

In the latest abortion polling from Gallup, percentages saying abortion should be legal has climbed to high points for each trimester -- 69% in the first three months, 37% in the second three months and 22% in the last three months.

Conventional wisdom reported after the last congressional elections is that the anticipated strong gains for Republicans did not materialize because of Dobbs.

And that Democrats certainly plan to build on this sentiment and focus on abortion in the 2024 elections.

Republican candidates are jockeying to define themselves regarding protection of life.

Greatest clarity has come from Mike Pence, who has challenged Republicans to support a federal ban on abortion at 15 weeks.

Former President Donald Trump, speaking to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, finally noted that the federal government has a role in protecting life, but did not spell out details regarding how.

My advice to Republican candidates is to look to the wisdom of the very first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln.

"In this age, in this country," observed Lincoln, "public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions."

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Certainly, there is no issue more relevant for applying Lincoln's wisdom than abortion.

Well known, for instance, is how responses in polls can vary depending on how questions are asked.

Despite what appears to be polling showing strong sentiment for legal abortion, there is plenty other polling showing that Americans are not at all happy with the moral and social state of affairs in the country.

According to recent Gallup polling, 54% say the state of "moral values" in the country is "poor." This is 20 points higher than where this stood 20 years ago. Only 11% say the state of moral values is "excellent/good." This is half where this stood 20 years ago.

We expect businesses to have great expertise regarding public sentiment in markets where they sell. But we just saw the marketing disasters of Bud Light and Target in assessing incorrectly openness of the public to accept LGBTQ values as mainstream.

In Gallup's recent annual poll asking about "moral acceptability" regarding a list of morally sensitive issues, 11 of the 19 show a lower percentage now saying they are morally acceptable compared to last year. The biggest drop was in "gay and lesbian relations," with a seven-point drop in 2023 saying this is morally acceptable compared to 2022.

The percentage of Americans now self-identifying as socially conservative, per Gallup, is at 38%, up from 30% two years ago, and highest in 10 years. This compared to 29% who self-identify as socially liberal.

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Let's also note the new report from the Census Bureau about the ageing of the country. The median age now, the oldest ever, is 38.9. In 2000, it was 35. In 1980, it was 30.

The breakdown in values in which marriage, family and children flourish does not bode well for our future.

Republican candidates need to provide clarity to primary voters on where they stand on the full range of social issues -- not just specifics on abortion. All these issues together comprise the culture of life.

The upcoming Republican debates, to be hosted by Fox, should be used as a platform to get clarity from candidates on all these issues, and all candidates, including Trump should participate.

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