Roughly an eight-point swing in just a year with almost all of the movement attributable to Republicans and leaners, trending from 60/36 pro-life in 2008 to 70/26 now. What gives? A few diehard Sarahcuda fans theorized in Headlines that this is her influence but I think Gallup has it right. It’s the social-con equivalent of the national gun-buying frenzy since The One was elected: The more the man in the White House is perceived as a threat to an issue you care about, the more ardent your defense of that issue is likely to become.

With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation’s policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans — and, in particular, Republicans — seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public’s understanding of what it means to be “pro-choice” slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.

Yeah, supporting infanticide will tend to do that. The news isn’t all good for passionate pro-lifers — 53 percent sill support keeping abortion legal in at least “a few circumstances” — but the trends across the board are all in the conservative direction, including among women. There’s a media assumption, I think, that this issue splits dramatically along gender lines; not only is it untrue, but more women now call themselves pro-lifers than pro-choicers (49/44). Further evidence, as Ace says, that if there’s any truth to the claim that social cons are hurting the GOP, this issue ain’t the main cause of injury.

Update: An afterthought. If my theory of what’s driving this is correct, why were the numbers so hugely pro-choice in 1995, with Clinton in his first term? One possibility is that it was a backlash to the GOP congressional wave the year before, with voters suddenly worried that a Republican Congress might try to scale abortion way back. If so, then the current numbers don’t mean much at all since they’re basically just a reaction to whoever’s in power at the time.