News Politics

Activist Groups May Determine the Role of Choice in the Election

Robin Marty

A new Gallup survey has the line evenly divided between pro-choice and anti-choice voters. Will PACs put candidates on top?

Both pro-choice and anti-choice political wings are focusing on women’s reproductive rights in the upcoming election. Yet, as last week’s debate showed us, a woman’s right to control the size of her family isn’t garnering the same attention as the deficit and unemployment. This, despite the fact that family size is one of the biggest determinants of economic security.

Why so little interest? Gallup may hold the answer.

According to a recent survey, only one in six voters considered abortion to be the top issue of the election. Of those, pro-choice voters and anti-choice voters are fairly evenly divided.

Gallup reports:

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Seventeen percent say they will vote only for candidates for major office who share their own views on abortion, one of the higher rates of abortion-centric voting seen in presidential election years since 1992….Gallup finds slightly more pro-life voters than pro-choice voters saying they will vote only for a candidate who shares their views, 21% vs. 15%. That represents 9% and 7%, respectively, of all voters — a slight pro-life tilt, albeit one that could potentially benefit pro-life Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Gallup concludes, “Unless one of the presidential candidates makes a significantly greater effort than the other to encourage turnout among his like-minded abortion voters, the electoral impact of the abortion issue will be minimal.” That’s exactly what both sides seem intent on doing.

National Right to Life Committee sees the poll as a rallying cry for its PAC to swing into action. Dave Andrusko, editor of National Right to Life News, writes:

[A]bortion is a larger issue than in any election since 1996—except for 2004 when a total of 17% were single-issue abortion voters (12% pro-life, 5% pro-choice). That’s point number one.

Point number two, when the work of NRL PAC is factored in, the increment will be larger. Why do I say that? Because Gallup concludes that typically single-issue pro-life voters  enjoy a two point advantage over single-issue pro-choice voters.

Yet when NRL PAC conducts post-election polls, the margin is always larger than +2. Why? Because of what NRL PAC has accomplished.

In other words, there is no reason to believe that pro-life candidates  in 2012 won’t receive what is oft-times a crucial boost BECAUSE they are pro-life.

NRLC points to “razor thin margins” on which that candidate could win, and it’s a battleground plan that many news outlets are starting to note. Virginia, a hotbed of opposing forces over reproductive rights, has become the center of the debate, due to its TRAP regulations that could shut down many clinics in the state. These regulations were tempered by the state board of health but then sent back to be overturned when the state’s anti-choice attorney general refused to sign the new guidelines. The clinic regulations and the outcry over mandatory ultrasounds earlier in the year forced the governor to backpedal slightly on the requirements. Voters in Virginia are now keyed up in a way that those in few other states have been.

According to Outcome Magazine, abortion and choice could be pivotal factors in who wins the state:

University of Virginia political analyst Geoffrey Skelley said that “while abortion is not a key issue in this election, abortion within the context of women’s rights seems to be a relatively important issue in Virginia.”

“The economy is the number one issue everywhere, but due to recent events in Virginia politics, abortion and other related issues — such as access to birth control — are playing a role,” he added.

“They are one reason why Obama has around a 10 percent lead among women over Mitt Romney in Virginia.”

A ten-point lead among women could be a winner, but anti-choice opponents seem undaunted by it. “[T]he issue of abortion gives Mitt Romney an advantage over President Obama because pro-life voters are much more passionate than pro-abortion voters,” concludes LifeNews.

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