A Fake Pro-Life Majority


On FiveThirtyEight, via Andrew Sullivan, Ed Kilgore discusses the skewed nature of many abortion polls. Specifically, a recent poll by Gallup claiming that 51% of Americans identify as “pro-life.”

Kilgore writes:

“Aside from all the issues with how these two terms are perceived, this methodology also forces asunder and thus distorts the views of the vast ‘mushy middle’ on abortion policy, which Gallup itself measures at 53%, in a secondary question that divides respondents into three camps (‘illegal in all circumstances,’ ‘legal in any circumstances,’ and ‘legal only in some circumstances.’)”


The Gallup poll’s methodology was flawed, as is often the case with these polls. It forces dichotomy on a complex issue, manufacturing false results. I’ve written about this same problem here before. Also, according to the poll, the only major shift in opinion is within the Republican Party; there hasn’t been a change among Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents.

According to Kilgore, what matters is why a woman seeks an abortion, “and once they are aware of a plausible rationale, anti-abortion attitudes appear to relax.” It’s a vague, ideological alliance that dissipates once reality sets in.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.