A shift back on abortion rights?

A SHIFT BACK ON ABORTION RIGHTS?…. In mid-May, Gallup released a poll that found 51% of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” and 42% “pro-choice.” It was the first time a majority of U.S. adults had identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking the question, and the nine-point margin was easily the largest lead opponents of abortion rights have seen.

About a month ago, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski pointed to these numbers as evidence that “real” Americans approve of Sarah Palin. “Look at where people stand on life,” Brzezinski said. “Look what real Americans think.”


I guess fake Americans are making a comeback. A new report from Gallup shows the pro-life lead evaporating since the last poll, dropping from nine points to one, 47% to 46%.

The Gallup report on these results suggests that it’s possible public attitudes shifted in the wake of the George Tiller assassination. Maybe, but it seems even more likely to me that the May results, showing “pro-life” identification with a nine-point edge, were just an outlier. There were no reasons — political, demographic, or otherwise — to explain that kind of dramatic one-year shift, and it’s not surprising that the numbers quickly shifted back within a couple of months. Once in a while, when poll results seem wrong, it’s because they are wrong.

Generally speaking, there just aren’t significant shifts on this. Most Americans oppose a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortions, and that hasn’t changed. Most Americans want to see the Supreme Court leave the Roe v. Wade precedent intact, and that hasn’t changed, either. This matters far more than ambiguous labels like “pro-choice” and “pro-life.”