The debate over pro-life legislation in Texas continues to garner national attention, and in recent weeks pro-life bills have been making progress in Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. As such, it should come as no surprise that the mainstream media have put their spin machine into overdrive. Gallons of ink have been spent writing puff pieces about Texas state senator Wendy Davis. Furthermore, a number of media outlets have worked overtime to portray pro-life bills in Texas and elsewhere as both extreme and unpopular.
However, despite the media’s efforts, the pro-life position continues to make progress. This Tuesday, Rasmussen released a poll which showed that 43 percent of Americans described themselves as “pro-life,” while 46 percent described themselves as “pro-choice.” While that may not sound overwhelming, in three years of Rasmussen polling this is the highest level of public support ever recorded for the pro-life position. Furthermore, the pro-life position has made an impressive gain of seven percentage points since Rasmussen’s January 2013 poll on abortion attitudes.
The poll adds to the body of survey data which finds that pro-life sentiment has increased since the 2012 election — contrary to media spin, the pro-life position lost relatively little ground in 2012.
Three separate surveys by Rasmussen, Gallup, and NBC/Wall Street Journal show that support for the pro-life position has increased anywhere from four to eight percentage points since January.
Furthermore, the pro-life position has made even more impressive gains in public opinion over the long term. In 2009, Gallup reported that for the first time, pro-life public sentiment had reached 50 percent. Overall, six of the last nine Gallup surveys have found that people were more likely to describe themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”
A simple analysis of the crosstabs of any professionally done abortion survey would go a long way toward dispelling the many myths that surround abortion politics. For instance, according to this most recent Rasmussen poll, men are more likely than women to describe themselves as “pro-life,” but the difference is slight – only 5 percentage points. Furthermore, among voters who describe the abortion issue as “very important,” 58 percent describe themselves as “pro-life” while only 39 percent describe themselves as “pro-choice.”
As such, it is clear that, despite what the media is saying, the pro-life position is a political winner in Texas — and across the country.
— Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science 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