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Take This Poll Claiming Americans Prefer Democrats to Republicans on Abortion Issue with a Grain of Salt

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

On Thursday morning, Jason Lange for his write-up on the Reuters/Ipsos poll went with the abortion question, claiming "Americans prefer Democrats' position on abortion to Republicans'" Such a result is particularly suspect, considering it's not necessarily what others have found, at least not when the results are carefully broken down and the positions accurately explained. 

By the numbers, the poll indicates that while more adults think that Democrats have better plans on abortion, it's only 34 percent of respondents, while 26 percent said the Republican Party. The rest of respondents said neither party, or that they didn't know. That's a pretty significant chunk of respondents.

When it comes to members of one's own party, 58 percent of Republicans said their party had the better plan on abortion, while 71 percent of Democrats said their party did. 

Respondents were also asked about candidate position. When it comes to the likelihood that respondents will vote for a candidate who supports laws that ban or severely restrict abortion, 61 percent of respondents say they'd be less likely to support such a candidate. 

A more accurate way to ask the question, though, would be to ask respondents' likelihood of supporting a candidate who wants to make abortion available on demand without any legal limit, especially since Democrats have passed such legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and have tried to pass it in the U.S. Senate. That legislation, the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) would not just codify Roe, as its supporters claim, but would expand it as well, especially since it would eliminate pro-life laws that states have passed. 

Polls show that when respondents are asked that question in such a way, they are less likely to vote for such a candidate. The numbers are also much more partisan in favor of more Republicans supporting the pro-life position, with Independents often supporting the pro-life position as well. 

The poll was conducted May 16-23, with 4,409 adult respondents, and a  a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of between 2 and 5 percentage points. Democrats also outweighed Republican and Independent respondents, in that there were 2,036 Democrats, compared to 1,637 Republicans and 530 Independents. 

Predictably, in a press release from that same day, the Democratic Party mentioned the poll in its press release blasting how "MAGA Republicans Are Wildly Out of Touch with the American People On Abortion." The release was put out to address another Oklahoma law passed another pro-life law on Wednesday, as Maddy covered, this one being the Life at Conception Act. Lawsuits are already pouring in to block the law. 

While the Democrats claim other polls also show support for their position, it's worth highlighting, as we've done and continue to do so, that this is not the whole picture.

Polls do consistently show that respondents do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, which may be because they don't even know what Roe entails. At the very least, they may worry that overturning Roe will ban abortion nationwide, when it will instead merely return the decision back to the states. 

When respondents are polled using more accurate phrasing of the issue, which is to say whether they prefer judges decide the abortion issue, or state legislatures, they are much more likely to say the latter, which means that they are in favor of overturning Roe

Others weighed in when asked by Townhall about the Reuters/Ipsos poll, including Kristi Hamrick, the chief media and policy strategist at Students for Life of America. "Major media polls that insist voters love an abortion agenda always leave out the fine print. The vast majority of Americans want limits on abortion, and if you want limits on abortion, you don’t support Roe. The Democratic Party agenda of abortion through all 9 months and paid for with scarce taxpayer resources is radically out of step with voters," she shared.

"In fact 8 of 10 Millennials and Gen Z say they want to vote on abortion policy, which is not possible if abortion policy is left as it is. Asking an abortion policy poll question without explaining the details is deceptive, and seems meant to deceive office holders into choosing a pro-abortion path. But most Americans want less abortion, which is not what Democrats are offering to voters," Hamrick added, referring to polling from the Institute for Pro-Life Advancement. 

Dr. Michael New, a research associate at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, expressed concerns with what information was given. 

"The Reuters/Ipsos poll provides very little information about either public attitudes toward abortion or how sanctity of life issues will impact the 2022 midterm elections. The main problem with the poll is that it fails to fully explain the positions of the two parties with regards to abortion. Indeed, many aspects of the Democratic Party’s stance on abortion are very unpopular with voters," he said. 

Dr. New also pointed to other polls to back up his points. "Majorities consistently oppose taxpayer funding of elective abortions. Multiple Gallup polls show that over 60% of Americans think abortion should be 'generally illegal' in the second trimester. The same polls show that over 80% of Americans think abortion should be 'generally illegal' in third trimester." 

Another major takeaway from Reuters/Ipsos, in a separate poll, is that President Joe Biden is at yet another record low of 36 percent. Our friends at Twitchy pointed out earlier on Thursday how people certainly picked up on noticing that poll takeaway. 

Further, Reuters/Ipsos, as well as a host of other polls, acknowledge that abortion is not a major issue for voters. It's certainly not a top issue in comparison to inflation, which a plurality or majority, depending on the particular poll, choose as their top issue.

As Lange pointed out in his write-up about the abortion takeaway:

It also appears likely inflation will dominate voter concerns in November, overwhelming any advantage the abortion battle might confer on Democrats, said Douglas Heye, a Republican strategist and a former top aide to ex-Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

...

Anger over prices could work against Democrats. Only 54% of Democrats think their party has a better plan for inflation, compared to 75% of Republicans who back their own side.

"People are mad every time they drive past a gas station, and they're mad every time they go to the grocery store. And that's a daily anger, said Heye. "It's hard to see how abortion overrides that."

Not only does the poll look to adults, rather than voters or likely voters, but it also cites an expert who points to not getting too complacent on these results:

For Republicans, "it suggests some ambivalence about their party's ideas on abortion," said Yanna Krupnikov, a political scientist at Stony Brook University.

Krupnikov cautioned, however, against firm conclusions that curtailing abortion rights will help Democrats, with the strongest abortion rights proponents likely already being core Democratic voters.

Dr. New made similar remarks. "Even taking the polling results at face value, it is not clear that Democratic Party’s stance on abortion will work to their advantage in the 2022 midterm elections. Many polls show that voters who prioritize abortion as an issue are more likely to be 'pro-life' than 'pro-choice.' Also some supporters of legal abortion may support Republican candidates out of frustration with high rates of inflation, the baby formula shortage, and high gas prices," he also added. 

Nice try Democrats, but it's not looking good come the November midterms. Even this Reuters/Ipsos poll, which is very likely an outlier on the abortion issue, admits signs point to as much. 

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