Abortion drew a lot of attention this past week with the annual “March For Life” in Washington, D.C., protesting the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
Looking back at the 2012 election exit poll data, there’s a large elephant in the room that many Republicans (you’ll forgive the pun) seem to be ignoring – the fact that a majority of the electorate (53%) were women and a majority of them (55%) went for Obama.
When you’re losing a majority of the majority, you’re not going to win many elections.
Another critical demographic that Republicans lost ground with are Latinos, a subject I’ve written about more extensively. Latinos were 10% of the overall electorate and the GOP share of the Latino vote dropped from 44% in 2004 to 27% in 2012.
Exit polls show that abortion factored in to last year’s election, quite unfavorably for pro-life candidates.
According to ABC News exit polls, 58% of all male voters and 60% of female voters nationwide believe abortion should be legal. Two-thirds of Latinos (66%) said that abortion should be legal while only 28% disagreed. There was also no gender gap on abortion among Latinos; 64% of Latino men and 67% of Latino women nationwide agreed that abortion should be legal.
According to Fox News exit polls, 59% of Americans nationwide believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases vs. 36% who believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
When we break down the data by state, the findings are pretty consistent with every state Romney lost and even a few that he won.
In blue states where Republicans have been bleeding votes away over the last eight years (be that for ideological reasons or GOP voters simply moving out of state), it wasn’t even close. In California, 68% vs. 27% believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In both New York and New Jersey, it’s 71%-25%. In Illinois, it’s 64%-33%.
But even in swing states, the majority of voters agree abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In Ohio, it’s 56%-39%. In Virginia – 62%-32%. In Nevada – 64%-30%. In New Hampshire – 72%-25%.
Even in states that Romney carried: Arizona – 63%-35%, North Carolina – 53%-40%, Missouri – 53%-45%. You’ll recognize that polls showed incumbent Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill was polling below 50% throughout 2011 and 2012 … until Republican nominee Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” abortion comment tanked his candidacy in Missouri. No exit poll data on abortion was available for Indiana, but considering most other Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa showed a majority supporting the legality of abortion in all or most cases, I’m guessing Richard Mourdock’s views on the subject didn’t do him any favors in his race either.
While certainly not all women rank abortion as their #1 factor in deciding who to vote for, a substantial percentage of them definitely do. I can personally attest to this because I’ve experienced it myself in the field.
This past election cycle, I was campaigning for Republican candidates running for the Illinois state legislature in the north and northwest Cook County suburbs. In a state where we have the largest debt/deficit in the nation, where 33% of Illinoisans and almost half of Chicago live in poverty, and where we lead the nation in gun homicides, corruption, and outbound net migration of residents looking to flee it all, you might think these issues would hold a higher priority over Roe vs. Wade.
Not for many women. Even in the Chicago-land suburbs, when talking with women face to face, I would listen to their priorities and mention how lack of economic growth and job opportunity are why families can’t stay together in this state, why out of control spending and lack of public accountability is why our taxes keep going up, and before I could go any further…
“Is your candidate pro-choice or pro-life?”
“Well, honestly I don’t know,” I’d truthfully admit. “We’re focused on job creation-“
“Why can’t you answer that question!? Why can’t you tell me if he/she is pro-choice or pro-life!?”
“Because I honestly don’t have an answer. I never asked him/her. To be honest it’s not even something that any state legislature can really do about it, it’s a Supreme Court-“
“Oh go to hell!”
That’s what I hate about it the most. It’s such an emotional issue that only serves to distract at best and scare at worst so many female and independent voters, to the point where the rest of your message gets buried or completely ignored.
I’ve long maintained that conservatives can be against the morality of abortion but leave the legality of it alone. Evidently, at least 6 out of 10 women nationwide and 2 out of every 3 Latinos agree with me. You know how much of our tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood? 0.01% - that’s one one-hundredth of a percent. Women make up a majority of the electorate and I’m tired of losing more than half of them over where 0.01% of our tax dollars go.
Then maybe they’ll at least listen to our message again.