Seems noteworthy. I’m just … not sure what the takeaway is.
Pretty clear-cut. Democrats are where they’ve been for most of the last 10 years. So are indies after a brief post-election honeymoon with current abortion policy following Obama’s reelection. Virtually all of the decline is coming from Republicans. You can, if you like, explain the 11-point drop between 2008 and 2012 as a reaction to Hopenchange: Having someone from the other party in the White House is apt to make partisans view the status quo as less tolerable than it used to be, even if it hasn’t changed much. But what’s going on with that extra little tailspin between 2014 and 2015, when Republican satisfaction dropped another eight points to rock-bottom 21 percent? The share of GOPers who are content with America’s abortion policy is now fully half what it was 10 years ago.
My first hunch on that was that it’s a reaction to Kermit Gosnell, who got lots of attention on the right. Go figure that a gruesome case about a guy who practiced infanticide for years with impunity might signal to social conservatives that the current legal framework is even worse than thought. How can this be a backlash to Gosnell, though, when the verdict was handed down in May 2013? We should have seen a drop in satisfaction either that year or in 2014 at the latest. Just doesn’t make sense that it’d show up now.
The obvious alternative is that this is an insta-backlash to the House GOP caving on that bill to ban late-term abortions a few weeks ago. Having just handed both chambers of Congress to their party’s leaders, Republican voters naturally expected some movement on a core social issue, even if it was destined for an Obama veto. The fact that Boehner and McConnell couldn’t get a bill to Obama’s desk drove home the reality that it’s not Democrats who are blocking abortion reform, it’s the entire D.C. establishment. No wonder Republicans are newly disgusted with the status quo. Just one problem with that theory: Gallup’s poll this year was taken between January 5th and 8th, several weeks before the House GOP caved. How can it be a backlash to that?
And if this is all about Republicans being disgusted with how lax abortion laws are, how to explain this?
Dissatisfaction among people who want stricter laws is up five points … but dissatisfaction among those who want less restrictive laws is up two points, and dissatisfaction among people who want to keep the status quo is also up five points. This isn’t some uniform backlash to late-term abortion among GOPers, in other words. It’s a weird phenomenon where every faction on abortion within the party is suddenly less content than it used to be. Er, what’s the lesson from that?
The best I can do to reconcile it is imagine that it’s a reaction to the GOP Senate takeover. If you’re pro-life, you’re frustrated that the Aborter-in-Chief is still around to veto the new Republican majority’s attempts to tighten the laws. If you’re pro-choice, you’re frustrated that Congress is suddenly in the hands of a party that wants to impose new restrictions. If you’re pro-status-quo, you’re frustrated that this is destined to become a live political grenade again as Obama and the GOP wrestle over it. Exit question: If all of that’s true, though, then why hasn’t Democratic satisfaction dropped as well? That logic should apply to the various abortion factions within their party too.