by David N. Bass
Contributor, Carolina Journal
Gallup reports that the number of Americans who self-identify as “pro-choice” on the issue of abortion has reached a record low of 41 percent. Americans now tilt “pro-life” by a 9 percentage point margin (51 percent identified as “pro-life”).
Significantly, the poll found that more independent voters are identifying with “pro-life”:
The percentage of political independents identifying as pro-choice is 10 points lower today than in May 2011, while the percentage pro-life is up by six points. As a result, pro-lifers now outnumber pro-choicers among this important swing political group for only the second time since 2001, with the first occurring in 2009.
More broadly, since 2009, independents have been fairly closely divided between the two abortion positions, whereas for most of the 2001-2008 period, significantly more independents were pro-choice than pro-life.
On the specifics of abortion, Gallup found that Americans’ perceptions haven’t changed all that much:
While Americans’ identification as “pro-choice” has waned over the past year, their fundamental views about the morality and legality of abortion have held steady. Half of Americans, 51%, consider abortion morally wrong and 38% say it is morally acceptable — nearly identical to the results in May 2011.
Gallup’s longest-running measure of abortion views, established in 1975, asks Americans if abortion should be legal in all circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances. Since 2001, at least half of Americans have consistently chosen the middle position, saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and the 52% saying this today is similar to the 50% in May 2011. The 25% currently wanting abortion to be legal in all cases and the 20% in favor of making it illegal in all cases are also similar to last year’s findings.
The tendency to self-identify as “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice” shows that pro-lifers are winning the perception battle. A significant chunk of the ongoing political battle, for either side, will be to capture a greater share of those who say abortion should be legal but limited.