McCAIN AND ABORTION….John McCain’s reputation for cross-party moderation has been so ingrained for so long that a lot of people simply assume he holds positions he doesn’t. In particular, an awful lot of centrist voters assume that McCain has fairly centrist views on abortion. So what happens when they find out that, in fact, McCain’s actual position is pretty much identical to James Dobson’s? A new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll of battleground states provides a clue:

Once balanced information about Obama and McCain’s respective positions on choice is introduced, Obama gains 6 points overall, with his lead in battleground states expanding from a net 2 points (47-45 percent) to a net 13 points (53-40 percent).

….Despite the fact that the national focus seems to be on the economy, among pro-choice Independent women, pro-choice Republican women, and liberal to moderate Republican women, the issue of abortion produces a larger advantage for Democrats than the economy, the war in Iraq, or health care. Moreover, among these three groups critiques on McCain’s anti-choice position are the strongest attacks against him, trumping attacks on the economy, the war, and special interests.

This kind of stuff is more than normally tricky, since you can almost always get a fair number of people to change their view by reading some carefully chosen critiques of whatever issue you’re polling about. Still, in this case GQR’s statement was fairly straightforward: Obama believes abortion is a personal decision and supports Roe v. Wade, while McCain is pro-life and wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. All by itself, that produced a 6-point swing.

Abortion is unlikely to be a major issue in this year’s election, but it’s not a big effort to simply make sure that voters know McCain’s actual position: He thinks abortion should be illegal, and if he becomes president he’ll do his best to appoint Supreme Court justices who think so too.