Nearly forty years after the Supreme Court legalized the right for women to have an abortion an overwhelming majority of Americans prefer the law of the land be upheld.
By a 63-29% margin most voters believe the ‘Roe V. Wade’ Supreme Court decision from 1973 should remain law. This according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center. Several polls dating back to 1989 indicate that current levels of support and opposition for the decision fall roughly in line with historical attitudes. Never has support for the ruling dipped below 60% and never has opposition climbed higher than 36%.
Part of the reason for both the consistency in the numbers and broad support for the decision probably lies in the fact that a majority of Americans do not consider the issue of abortion to be of great importance. The Pew poll indicates 53% do not think the issue is that important compared to other issues against just 18% who believe it to be a critical one facing our country. Another 27% meanwhile consider it to be one of any number of important issues.
Perhaps most startling is the relatively small number of Americans who understand what the ‘Roe V. Wade’ legal decision involved. When asked from a list of several different issues only 62% of those polled knew that it had to do with the topic of abortion. 18% thought it had to do with some combination of either the death penalty, school desegregation, or environmental protection, and 20% were not certain of anything.
In spite of the broad acceptance to abortion protection as a legal issue a solid plurality of Americans still believe it to be “morally wrong” to have one. Currently 47% of the population holds this view against just 13% who believe it to be “morally acceptable” and 27% who don’t think it to be a moral issue in the first place. Smoking marijuana is considered more acceptable by a 13-32-50% margin and Americans are considerably more hostile toward income tax evaders (6-71-19%).
Lastly Pew has done some interesting analysis on party identification trends through the years that they posted near the bottom of their latest polling release. According to their random surveying the lead for Democrats over Republicans in the Party ID gap for 2012 was 7.9%. This is a similar to the measurements from over the past three years but down from a gap of more then ten-percentage points in 2008 and 2009. Still it’s considerably higher than the 3.5% lead Democrats posted in 2004 when candidate John Kerry lost his bid to defeat Republican President George W. Bush for reelection.
Other than for a brief period in 1995 Republicans have not outnumbered Democrats in the United States, according to Pew, since their tracking of the topic began in 1987. The average margin over that time period has been a Democratic lead of 4.92%. The average margin of victory for Democrats over Republicans for the Presidency over that time period is 2.22%. In House elections since 1988 it is 1.47%, and in the Senate it is a 2.87% average margin of victory for the Democratic Party.