Abortion Not Responsible for “Gender Gap” Between Parties

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 22, 2012   |   11:11AM   |   Washington, DC

The issue of abortion is frequently touted as the reason why the Democratic party does a better job of attracting women voters than do Republicans. But Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review breaks down the Gallup polling data to find that’s not the case — because polling data doesn’t show marked differences on abortion between men and women.

In May, Gallup found the percentage of Americans saying they are “pro-choice” favoring abortion is at a new low. Ponnuru contacted Gallup to get more information on the breakdown on abortion comparing men and women.

“As I expected, there hasn’t generally been a large gap between men and women on the “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” question. In 2007, they found 46 percent of men and 45 percent of women calling themselves “pro-life.” In 2011, the numbers were 46 and 44,” Ponnuru explains. “The most recent data point we have, though, from 2012, does show a bigger gap than usual: 53 percent of men and 46 percent of women identified as “pro-life” in Gallup’s 2012 poll. (Both men and women were more likely to call themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”) This could, however, be a blip. Check in next year.”

“The last time Gallup asked questions about the circumstances under which abortion should be legal was in 2011. There was no consistent gender gap in the results. Men were slightly more likely to take the pro-choice side on some questions: more likely than women to say that abortion should be legal when the mother’s life is in danger, when her physical health was threatened, when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, and in the second and third trimesters; less likely to favor mandatory ultrasound laws, or waiting periods, or parental consent,” Ponnuru noted. “On other questions, though, it was women who tilted slightly more pro-choice, or less pro-life. They were less likely than men to support bans on partial-birth abortion. They were more likely to think abortion should be legal when the child is physically impaired, or when the parents cannot afford a child (or another one), or in the first trimester. A combined 59 percent of men said that abortion should be legal either in no circumstances or in only a few; 56 percent of women chose those responses.”

Ponnuru says that the so-called gender gap doesn’t always manifest itself — even in elections featuring a clear pro-life versus pro-abortion contrast and it doesn’t disappear when Republicans take a pro-abortion views.

“Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a strong pro-lifer, won 57 percent of men and 48 percent of women in 2010. Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada, who’s pro-choice, won 57 percent of men and 49 percent of women,” he noted. “In 2006, pro-life senator Jim Talent of Missouri did 6 points better among men than women in his losing bid for re-election; pro-choice senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island did 7 points better among men in his own race the same year.”

Other polling data substantiates Ponnuru’s thesis that there is no gender gap on abortion.

A July 2012 Polling Company survey found women were more likely to support members of Congress who didn’t favor abortion to the point of birth compared with men.

The polling firm asked:

Currently, within the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital, there is no abortion law at all.  This means that abortion is legal there, for any reason, right up until the moment of birth.  This summer, Congress is considering a bill that would not allow abortion in the District of Columbia after 22 weeks of pregnancy – which means after the beginning of the sixth month of pregnancy – unless the mother’s life is in danger.  Would you be more or less likely to vote for a Member of Congress who votes in favor of this bill? And would you be (ROTATED) more or less likely to vote for a Member of Congress who votes in favor of this bill? (PROBED: And would that be MUCH or SOMEWHAT MORE/LESS LIKELY?)

58% TOTAL MORE LIKELY (NET) [women: 62%; men: 53%]

27% TOTAL LESS LIKELY (NET) [women: 27%; men, 27%]

Women were also more likely to back a policy of not permitting abortion anywhere “after the point where substantial medical evidence says that the unborn child can feel pain,” unless it is “necessary to save a mother’s life.”



The polling firm asked:

Unless an abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, do you think abortion should be permitted after the point where substantial medical evidence says that the unborn child can feel pain?

63% NO, ABORTION SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED [women:70%; men:55%]
21% YES, ABORTION SHOULD BE PERMITTED [women:18%, men:25%]

And Obama’s HHS mandate hurt himself with women voters.

When asked whether birth control should be treated like any other drug in healthcare plans, however, the numbers grow more lopsided. Overwhelming majorities of Catholics and women, 67 and 63 percent respectively, think birth control should be treated like any other drug, without mandatory coverage. Even among women under 45, 62 percent think birth control does not merit mandatory coverage.

When asked as whether the federal government has the right to force morally objectionable coverage on religious institutions, 57 percent of voters said no. Those numbers remained high for women, with 54 percent of women under 45, and 58 percent of women 45 and older, disagreeing.

Regarding the possibility that religious service providers may close down due to fines for refusing to comply with the mandate on conscience grounds, 65 percent of Catholics and 57 percent of women said they would question the wisdom of the mandate. Interestingly, those numbers were even higher for women under 45, with 63 percent responding that such closures would cause them to question the mandate.