Pro-Life View Gives Presidential Candidates Campaign Advantage

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 22, 2011   |   10:33PM   |   Washington, DC

As the primary election campaign to choose a Republican nominee to face pro-abortion President Barack Obama heats up, the debate has already started about what role pro-life issues will or will not play in the election.

Some mainstream media outlets, including Reuters, are making the erroneous case that pro-life issues will not become an important part of a presidential campaign where the result will largely depend on the state of the economy and how voters react to it. However, polling data shows about one-third of voters in the last presidential election and as many as 30 percent of voters in the November 2010 mid-term election say abortion is an issue that effected the way they vote for presidential or congressional candidates.

Following the 2010 and 2008 elections, the Polling Company surveyed American voters and, following the 2004 presidential election, Wirthlin Worldwide conducted a nationwide post-election poll. In each case, the polls found a sizable number of voters are motivated by abortion and, of those voters, they choose pro-life candidates by wide margins.

The last presidential election found almost 34 percent of voters said, according to the Polling Company survey of 800 voters, that the abortion issue affected their vote. Some 21.5 percent said they voted for John McCain while 12.25 percent indicated they voted for Obama. That gave McCain, who, while not fully pro-life, opposed abortion, a 9.25 percentage point advantage over the pro-abortion candidate.

The survey found 5 percent of voters said abortion was the single most important political issue guiding their vote. Of those voters, 4.5 percent supported McCain while just 0.5 percent backed Obama. The results make it clear that, had McCain not opposed abortion, he would have lost the 2008 election by a much larger margin.

In 2004, a Wirthlin Worldwide poll of 1,000 voters and a 3.1 percentage point margin of error, found similar results.

Some 39 percent of voters said abortion was one of the most important issues and 24 percent said they cast ballots for pro-life President George W. Bush while 15 percent indicated they voted for pro-abortion candidate John Kerry. That resulted in a 9 percentage point margin advantage for Bush, allowing him to stay in the White

House for another four years. Some 8 percent of voters indicated abortion was the single most important issue and 6 percent of voters saying they voted for Bush while just 2 percent voted for Kerry — a 4 percentage point pro-life margin of victory among the voters most interested in abortion.

The importance of abortion and the advantage for pro-life candidates continued in the November 2010 congressional elections.

The Polling Company surveyed 834 voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error and found 30 percent of Americans say abortion was one of the most important issues — with 22 percent voting for pro-life candidates and 8 percent voting for pro-abortion candidates. That’s a net 14 percent advantage for pro-life candidates and it makes it clear the pro-life issue helped Republicans catapult to the majority in the House of Representatives and increase their numbers in the Senate.

That survey fond 4 percent of voters saw abortion as the most important issue — with 3 percent voting for pro-life candidates and 1 percent voting for abortion supporters. That resulted in a 2 percent pro-life advantage for Congressional candidates.

The results are important as the 2012 election moves forward and they show in real terms the advantage the pro-life Republican nominee would have against Obama, who has racked up a massive pro-abortion record.