Gallup, abortion & the media (and why Ramesh Ponnuru owes me an apology)

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Remember back in May, when a Gallup poll found a majority of Americans call themselves "pro-life" -- a nine point margin over those calling themselves "pro-choice"? Remember how the media rushed to tout the findings, despite the fact that the poll had glaring flaws that rendered the findings dubious at best?

Well, last week, Gallup released the results of a new poll -- one finding that 47 percent of Americans call themselves "pro-life," just a hair more than the 46 percent who say they are "pro-choice," providing further evidence that the May poll was an outlier.

This would be a good time for Ramesh Ponnuru to acknowledge that I was right when I pointed out the obvious flaws in the May Gallup poll.

Gallup acknowledges that whatever shift towards the "pro-life" label there has been over the past year has occurred among Republicans, and states that it is a reaction to the election of Barack Obama rather than a shift in beliefs:

The source of the latest shift in abortion views -- between 2008 and 2009 -- is clear. The percentage of Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) who call themselves "pro-life" has risen by nearly 10 points over the past year, from 60% to 68% -- perhaps a reaction to the "pro-choice" presidency of Barack Obama -- while there has been essentially no change in the views of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

The new Gallup poll also found that only 18 percent of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. But don't expect to hear the media say much about that poll result; they have a lengthy track record of privileging opposition to abortion.

(For the record, I continue to find questions asking people to label themselves "pro-life" or "pro-choice" less illuminating than questions that ask people whether they think abortion should be legal in specific circumstances, for reasons I explained last month.)

Posted In
Health Care, Reproductive Rights
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Mika Brzezinski, Ramesh Ponnuru
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