How not to read abortion polls
Chris Cillizza tweeted earlier today that a new post in a section of the Washington Post he oversees explained why “Republicans need to stop talking about abortion. Immediately.” What it really shows is that polling on abortion needs to be read carefully rather than excitably.
In that post Aaron Blake writes, “The trend line is clear, and Americans are becoming more accepting of abortion rights.” His thesis depends entirely on an overreaction to a few bits of poll data. A fuller look at the evidence does not bear it out.
First, let’s look at the polls on Roe v. Wade. Blake’s major piece of evidence here is a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that shows that 70 percent of Americans believe that Roe should be upheld rather than overturned. He also cites a new Pew poll that he claims “largely confirms those findings, showing 63 percent of Americans oppose overturning Roe.”
Actually, Pew did not find that support for Roe has been increasing. It found less support for Roe than it did in 2005, which appears to be the last time it asked the question. The ABC/Washington Post poll also found declining support for Roe between 2005 and 2010.