An Internet poll released Wednesday appeared to find that just 23 per cent of Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case ‘and make abortion illegal,’ at a time when conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the high court seems imminent.
Two Democratic Senate aides told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that the poll would figure prominently in Democrats’ arguments that Kavanaugh’s presumed position on reproductive rights is out of step with the nation and should keep him off the nation’s highest court.
But following questions from DailyMail.com about the poll’s wording, the news organization that commissioned it is walking it back, likely leaving President Donald Trump’s Capitol Hill opponents without a much needed arrow in their quiver as they make a final anti-Kavanaugh case on the Senate floor.
The survey question left open the possibility that participants were voting against a scenario that would be constitutionally impossible.
Roe outlawed most abortion restrictions by taking away the states’ authority to legalize the practice, establishing that a woman’s right to privacy could only be curtailed in the case of abortion by a ‘compelling state interest’.
Overturning it would not make abortions illegal: It would return the issue to the states for more localized decisions.
Axios Editor-in-Chief Nick Johnston told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that his organization would be revising its conclusions.
‘That question was not worded well and we missed it,’ Johnston said in an email about the mistake.
Twenty-three per cent of participants agreed that they wanted the court to ‘overturn’ Roe ‘and make abortion illegal.’ Fully 71 per cent opted instead for: ‘No, leave decision as is.’
A senior aide to a pro-life Republican congressman said Wednesday on background: ‘That’s such bulls***. What a stupid push-poll.’
The SurveyMonkey poll led Axios to conclude that ‘[t]he vast majority of Americans want to leave Roe v. Wade alone, a reality that Republicans will face if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed.’
But Johnston said hours later: ‘We’re going to correct the story headline and body to say it’s actually polling on whether abortion should be illegal, not strictly on roe v wade (because those are 2 separate things).’
Gallup’s polling has consistently found a near-even split among self-described ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ Americans, with each camp claiming about 48 per cent of voters in May.
That means that in order for 71 per cent to believe Roe should be left ‘as is,’ more than half of pro-life Americans would have to agree.
Concluding that fewer than one-quarter of Americans want all abortions outlawed is more in line with pro-life advocates’ arguments that most of their followers want to leave options open for women who are victims of rape and incest, and whose pregnancies might endaanger their lives.
A similar Wall Street Journal poll in July confused the issue in July, telling respondents that Roe ‘established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion’ and asking if the Supreme Court should ‘completely overturn’ it.
In that survey, just 23 per cent said yes – possibly interpreting the question as a referendum on outlawing abortions entirely.
The polling controversy left the pro-life lobby incensed on Wednesday, and complaining about ‘push-poll’ language seemingly designed to throw reality to the dogs.
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told DailyMail.com that pro-life women are victims of a ‘media-perpetuated misconception that overrunning Roe ends abortion. Not true.’
‘Eroding or overturning Roe will simply allow the wheels of democracy to turn in every state. … When voters are asked do they want courts or elected officials to determine abortion law, they choose their elected officials overwhelmingly,’ she said.
In July Dannenfelser’s group commissioned the independent McLaughlin & Associates firm to poll 1,000 likely voters. That survey found 58 per cent wanted their state legislatures to determine the future of abortion policy – not the Supreme Court.
The SurveyMonkey poll’s unconventional method uses a broader than usual sample of Americans, but it is limited only to people who have already ‘opted in’ online.
While the company says it has access to a pool of more than 2 million Americans, it may not be a representative sample of U.S. voters since only about six-tenths of 1 per cent of the nation’s population has any chance at all of being surveyed.