The Corner

Culture

Do Pro-Life Messages Move Voters?

Adam Schaeffer reports on some experiments done during the Texas governor’s race last year that suggest they do:

The best targets for pro-life messaging were Democratic-leaning women, young voters and Hispanic voters. Exposure to just one pro-life video ad shifted Democratic-leaning women by 10 points away from Davis and toward Abbott.

Moreover, voters aged 18 to 34 shifted about 8 points, and Hispanic voters shifted about 13 net points from Davis to Abbott. Those were staggering results for these demographic groups on this issue. Of course, it wasn’t all positive: these same ads caused a backlash among white men.

Last year, Schaeffer noted that pro-life messages seemed to move voters toward Republicans in Virginia, as well.

What moved the voters most was an attack on McAuliffe’s positions on abortion; a single phone message emphasizing McAuliffe’s support for unrestricted, late-term, and taxpayer-funded abortions shifted support a net 13 to 15 points away from McAuliffe and toward Cuccinelli. The cost per vote here was a remarkably cheap $0.50 per additional vote, and even less expensive still when targeting the most persuadable segment of the electorate.

A topic declared radioactive by nearly everyone, locked away in secure storage behind a blazing Hazmat warning by the Cuccinelli campaign, appears to have been a powerful weapon for the Republican ticket that could have substantially closed the gap, and possibly even won Cuccinelli the election.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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