Abortion Stance Won't Solve Democrats' Biggest Problem Areas: Men and Independents
Emphasizing abortion, a low-priority issue with equally strong support on both sides, wouldn't help Dems much
August 24, 2012
Abortion doesn't merit above an asterisk (less than 0.5 percent of respondents) when Gallup asks Americans, "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?"
Yet Democrats plan to "highlight" the issue at their party's convention early next month.
Strategically foolish? Maybe. As Pew Research Center points out, it's "complicated."
According to Gallup, "Americans now tilt 'pro-life' by a nine-point margin, 50 percent to 41 percent." Further, a narrow majority, "51 percent, consider abortion morally wrong" whereas "38 percent say it is morally acceptable."
Despite these seeming Republican advantages, however, Pew's data reveal that a majority of Americans (53 percent) also believe that "abortion should be legal in all or most cases" and only 16 percent believe it should be "illegal in all cases." While this second number rises when the sample is limited to only Republicans, it should be noted that more Republicans say that abortion should be legal in most cases (28 percent) than say it should be illegal in all cases (22 percent).
It's these numbers that lure Democrats into believing that Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's "no exceptions" stance and "legitimate rape" comment can be used as wedge issues to persuade women to re-elect President Obama.
But this belief may prove problematic.
First, most Americans view the economy as the most important problem facing this nation and they want the next president to work on "creating new jobs." By focusing on abortion, the Democrats risk looking more "out of touch" with the country than the Republicans they're trying to brand as "out of touch."
Second, among self-identified independents "pro-lifers [47 percent] now outnumber pro-choicers [41 percent]." And since "women are more likely to identify as Democrats and less likely to identify as independents than are men," there's a real question about whether there are even that many women left in the electorate who can be persuaded on this issue.
Obama's problem is not the 50 percent-42 percent split in the women's vote. It's his 42 percent to 50 percent split in the men's vote (42 percent to 50 percent).
Since 1980, the only successful Democratic candidate to win the White House with such a small percentage of the men's vote was Bill Clinton in 1992. Clinton managed this feat only because independent candidate Ross Perot garnered 21 percent of the men's vote.
But let's get real, I doubt anyone would believe that there's a "Republican war on men" going on.