Iowa Straw Poll Results Show Pro-Life Message Still Matters

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 15, 2011   |   5:24PM   |   Washington, DC

The results of last weekend’s Iowa Straw Poll are encouraging news for leaders of two pro-life organizations who say they show the pro-life message still retains significance within the Republican Party. That’s because each of the top candidates holds a pro-life view and signed one pro-life group’s presidential pledge.

The Susan B. Anthony List congratulated Iowa Straw Poll winner Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and recognized that the top three performers Representative Ron Paul, Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Senator Rick Santorum, all joined Bachmann in signing the group’s pledge.

“It is no surprise that the top four vote getters of the Iowa Straw Poll are also signers of our Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Pro-life politics have long played a crucial role in Republican primaries and this election cycle will be no different. Republicans understand the importance of defeating President Obama, the most pro-abortion President in history, with a strong leader dedicated to protecting women and unborn children.”

Dannenfelser told LifeNews that, because public opinion is more pro-life than ever, the 2012 election will feel the abortion issue influence even more.

“The first ever Presidential Pro-Life Leadership Pledge provides a minimum bar and measuring stick that clearly resonates with voters,” she said.

Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Thad McCotter have all signed the pledge while Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Herman Cain have declined to do so. Pawlenty, the pro-life former Minnesota governor, withdrew from the race the day after the straw poll, saying he did not make as much progress as he hoped.

Meanwhile, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family research Council, agrees with Dannenfelser that pro-life issues have a prominent place within the party this election cycle.

“Iowa may be in the rearview mirror — but there are still many miles to go before November 2012. And after seeing the traction that social issues are getting, the opportunity is here to put some distance between the nation and the destructive, anti-family, big government programs of this administration,” he said. “After traveling over 1,300 miles through 47 Iowa counties, we saw first-hand that values voters are finally being heard. As Sean Hannity pointed out Saturday night, it was the grassroots who decided the Iowa straw poll with the aid of social conservatives who were energized by organizations like FRC Action.”

“Earlier that evening, I was honored to join Gov. Mike Huckabee, the former presidential candidate-turned-Fox TV host, to talk about the connection between the social and economic issues. The media and both party establishments are constantly claiming that the influence of social conservative voters is on the decline. And while they may wish that were true, the evidence suggests otherwise,” Perkins explained. “Consider the winners of Saturday’s straw poll. Three of the top four finishers — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Sen. Rick Santorum — joined our Values Bus tour, and each one of them holds strong conservative views on fiscal and social policy. Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), who came in second, didn’t join us on the Values Bus — but even he, the hero of libertarians, devoted most of his pre-poll speech to the importance of protecting the unborn. No doubt he was responding to the passionate challenge by Rick Santorum to stand for the defenseless.”

“Then compare the 2011 field of candidates to the candidates in 1987, when the only person on the ballot who fit the social conservative mold was Pat Robertson. Jack Kemp was also pro-life but seemed to be recognized more for his economic conservatism,” Perkins recalled. “In 1995, there were three social conservatives: Pat Buchanan, Alan Keyes, and Bob Dornan. Four years later, there were seven candidates on the Iowa ballot who embraced social conservative values: George W. Bush, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Alan Keyes, Dan Quayle, and Bob Smith. In the election that gave us Barack Obama, there were only three candidates who weren’t known for their social conservatism: Tommy Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and Sen. John McCain — all of whom finished at the bottom of the Iowa Straw Poll.”