AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Democrat politicians and mainstream media pundits have insisted that the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the subsequent enactment of pro-life laws by Republican state legislatures are out of step with public opinion. But polling on both the Dobbs decision and abortion policy generally suggests that, conversely, it is Democrats whose rapid descent into abortion extremism has left them at odds with the American people.
New data from a Harvard-Harris poll specifically paints a stark picture for Democrats. The first number that jumps out from the survey, which was conducted from June 28-29, is that while Americans are indeed deeply divided on abortion, they largely agree that late term abortions are bad: only 10% of respondents said they supported allowing abortion up until the moment of birth.
Despite such minimal support for this policy, abortion-on-demand up until the moment of birth is precisely the position that the vast majority of elected Democrats have now taken, as they have dropped all pretense of the “safe, legal, and rare” mantra that once supposedly defined the party’s stance on the issue. Prominent Democrats from New York Mayor Eric Adams to Ohio Senate candidate Tim Ryan and then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (speaking on behalf of President Joe Biden from the podium) have declined to support any restrictions on abortion.
In Congress, 49 Senate Democrats voted in May in favor of a bill that would also allow for abortion up until the moment of birth, while House Democrats are poised to pass similar legislation in the coming weeks. Last year, House Democrats passed a bill that would legalize sex-selective abortions, and Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have required doctors to provide life-saving care to infants born alive as a result of failed abortions. Meanwhile, Democrats in states like California, Washington, and New Jersey, among others, are now moving to expand access to late-term abortions – often using public funds to do so.
In the same poll, 72% of respondents (an unusually large majority on any issue in our deeply polarized political climate) also said that they support a ban on abortions after 15 weeks — precisely the question at issue in the Dobbs case. Moreover, While Democrats in states like Virginia have tried to slam Governor Glenn Youngkin as an abortion “extremist” following the Dobbs decision, it now appears that it is they who are in the minority after coming out strongly against Youngkin’s proposed 15-week abortion ban.
The survey also found that a full 49% of Americans support a ban on abortion after six weeks. While just shy of a majority, this finding immediately undercuts Democrats’ assertions that laws banning abortions after six weeks in states like Texas and Ohio represent a “fringe” position. 37% of respondents also supported a ban on elective abortions at any stage of pregnancy, with exceptions only for rape and incest – another sizable minority that is far larger than the 10% who said they support no limits on abortion.
The one bright spot in the poll for Democrats appears to be that 55% of respondents said they opposed overturning Roe v. Wade, while only 45% supported it – a similar finding to other polls that Democrats have touted in their messaging. But even this figure is more a reflection of the success of the mainstream media’s misinformation campaign rather than evidence that the public supports keeping Roe in place. While 55% of respondents said they opposed overturning Roe, only 25% of those same respondents said that the Supreme Court should set abortion policy – which is exactly what Roe did.
44%, meanwhile, said states should set abortion standards, while 31% said that responsibility should rest with Congress, which is the position that the majority in the Dobbs case took in their reasoning for overturning Roe. Other polls which have asked about support for Roe and then asked specifically about who people believe should set abortion policy have found similar results. In short, it seems as if many Americans believe – undoubtedly thanks to mainstream media narratives – that overturning Roe meant a federal ban on abortion, rather than merely returning the power to legislate abortion policy to the states.
Even with the media running this play, however, the Harvard-Harris poll suggests that Dobbs won’t be a winning issue for Democrats in the midterm elections as many in the party had hoped. While 36% of respondents said the decision made them more likely to vote Democrat in November, an additional 36% said they were more likely to vote Republican as a result, with 29% saying the decision made no difference. In other words, the Dobbs decision is at best a net neutral for Democrats – but even that may not be the case, as 59% of respondents said that it was wrong for Democrats to call the Court illegitimate as the result of the ruling.
Additional polling from USA Today/Suffolk University late last month also found that less than 15% of likely voters viewed abortion as the most important issue in the midterms, and just 23% said abortion was more important in the economy. Conversely, 66% of voters in the same poll said that the economy was the most important issue in deciding their vote – something that should be worrying for Democrats given record inflation and gas prices.
As with seemingly every other issue, a small but loud minority appears to have dragged the Democratic Party far to the left of the country as a whole on the issue of abortion – something which outgoing White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield openly admitted on her way out the door. Rather than a boon for the party’s electoral fortunes or reputation with the public, the end of Roe and the thrusting of abortion policy into the national spotlight may then be yet another instance where Democrats are forced to reveal how truly radical their position is, further alienating voters when they can least afford it.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_