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Politics & Policy

Howard Dean Overestimates How Pro-Abortion Young People Are

Ed Morrissey catches Howard Dean saying that Democrats don’t need to make compromises on abortion because young people “are extremely interested in social justice.”

Gallup’s latest numbers, from May 2016, suggest that young people support legal abortion more than their elders: 50 percent of people between 18 and 29 say abortion should be legal in “all” or “most circumstances,” and 48 percent say it should be legal “only in a few circumstances” or should be illegal. Among the public at large, 41 percent choose the two more pro-choice options and 56 percent the two more pro-life ones. Point to Dean: They are closer to his stance than the public at large is. But an essentially 50-50 split does not seem like the huge advantage for pro-choicers that Dean expects.

And today’s young people aren’t significantly more pro-choice than yesterday’s. In 2007, 52 percent of 18-29-year-olds chose the two pro-choice answers to that question, and 49 percent chose the pro-life ones. A three-point advantage for the pro-choice side, that is, became a two-point one. And while the numbers aren’t directly comparable, Gallup’s findings on people between ages 30 and 49–who break pro-life on the question I’m talking about by 57 to 41 percent–suggest that a lot of people who start out pro-choice don’t stay that way. Maybe that won’t happen to today’s 20somethings, but change in a pro-life direction seems like a good bet.

My thanks to Gallup for sharing the information.

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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