The recent Gallup survey that showed a significant decrease in “pro-choice” sentiment has received plenty of media attention. However, Gallup’s release of additional data from that survey last week has received considerably less coverage. In some respects, it is almost as if Gallup is using the release of this new data to downplay the results of their May survey. Gallup’s announcement specifically highlights various demographic groups that are strongly “pro-choice” including the non-religious and those with post-graduate degrees.
This new data demographically breaks down the results of the original abortion survey. Most of these results are unsurprising to people who are familiar with abortion opinion data. Christians, those over 55, low-income earners, and those with less formal education are more likely to be “pro-life.” Conversely, those who espouse no religion, women of reproductive age, and high-income earners are more likely to describe themselves as “pro-choice.”
However, there are a few new wrinkles. First, men are more likely than women to self-describe as “pro-life.” That may be consistent with conventional wisdom. However, it contradicts previous surveys which find fairly consistent abortion attitudes across genders. Also, at one point, high-income earners were much more likely to be “pro-choice” than low-income earners. However, as the Republican party has become more uniformly pro-life, income has become less strongly correlated with abortion attitudes.
Finally, many previous surveys showed that old people were much more likely to be pro-life than young people. This trend is still apparent in the Gallup survey. However, the differences between age groups have become less dramatic. There is also interesting data from the General Social Survey (GSS) which shows that young adults are more likely than members of other age cohorts to oppose abortion in specific circumstances.
In their release, Gallup also compares abortion attitudes between 2001 and 2008 to abortion attitudes between 2009 and 2012. The only demographic group that did not become more “pro-life” during this timespan was those that espouse no religion. Men, women, all regions, all age groups, and people of all educational levels all became more pro-life. That might be the best news of all for pro-life activists.
— Michael New is an Assistant Professor at The University of Michigan — Dearborn, a Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, and an Adjunct Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New