Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

The Pro-Life Obama Voters: What Do They Want?

The new Beliefnet survey offers some fascinating insight into how voters are looking at abortion.
In the Beliefnet survey, about 20% of overall Obama voters and 35% of the most religious Obama voters (those who attend church weekly or more) were pro-life. If national results track Beliefnet users — we’ll have to wait for some more national surveys to be sure — then that would mean pro-lifers made up a bigger portion of the Obama vote than African Americans and Latino’s combined.
So what do they believe? They are fundamentally different from McCain Pro Lifers because they simply don’t believe that criminalizing abortion is the most effective means of reducing the numbers. Here’s the key:
11% believe the best way to reduce the number of abortions is through legal restrictions
87% believe the best way is “by preventing unintended pregnancies (through education and birth control) or providing financial assistance to pregnant mothers.”
Just as surprising, is that a third of McCain pro-lifers, and 42% of McCain voters, agreed that the second approach was more effective.
This is striking. For years, the abortion debate has revolved around Roe v. Wade and legal restrictions, yet the majority of Obama pro-lifers and a sizable minority of McCain voters say that another approach would be more effective at reducing the number of abortions.
The good news for Obama is that his argument during the fall campaign — that we should seek common ground ways of reducing abortion — tapped into a real public desire. The bad news is that he now has to deliver on that promise, or risk alienating millions of pro-life Americans who voted for him.

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Paul, seeking wisdom

posted November 9, 2008 at 11:40 pm

If John McCain had asked that question to begin with, maybe he would have won the election. If the Religious Right had been more open to the reality of the scope of the abortion problem, maybe their numbers would not be on the decline.
But maybe it was that Obama seemed to be more of an overall Christian rather than a one issue Zealot that won people over. Poverty, homelessness, corruption in the Business and banking world and health where more on the minds of many of us Church going Christians, as well as Jews, and Islamics than abortion.

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posted November 10, 2008 at 9:10 am

John McCain /was/ asked if he approved reversing Roe vs. Wade during his 2000 presidential run. He answered as he had answered for years; No.
Fast forward to his 2008 presidential run. He was asked the same question. His answer; Yes, absolutely.
McCain isn’t a member of the Religious Right. He is not a Right Wing supporter. He is a Conservative Moderate who was thrust into the position of pandering to the Right-Wing voter base that got Bush into power.
I believe – and even Republican strategists have said as much – that the position McCain found himself in made him uncomfortable. The people saw it.
But more than that, I believe many people in the Right Wing are opening their eyes to the fact that the Republicans have been using them for years; pimping out their values to gain votes, and then ignoring them after Election Day.
The Republicans use the hope of reversing Roe vs. Wade like a carrot in front of your nose to keep you pulling their cart. You are never actually going to get a bite.
Look at the Bush Regime for proof; in the final days prior to his election Bush could not stop talking about Abortion (and gays), but once he got into power, nothing. Consider; at one point the republicans dominated Congress, the Senate and held the Presidency. They could have done nearly anything they wanted, but was there even a whisper about abortion?
Say what you want about Obama’s beliefs on this topic, but at least he was honest with people from day one.

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posted November 10, 2008 at 10:07 am

One can be “pro-life” without being strongly “pro criminalization”.

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posted November 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Yet one can be pro-criminalization and still advocate social policies that would conceivably reduce abortions as well. Their may be social policies implemented which could conceivably reduce homicide, yet most maintain that it should remain illegal.

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posted November 10, 2008 at 2:36 pm

NightLad is right. Reagan did the same fool the voters. Reagan and Bush were pro-choice when governors.
With over 60 percent of voters not wanting to make abortion illegal, Republicans know to double talk the issue just like McCain did.
Obama and most Democrats stance on issues are much more in line with the Bible. They try to protect the average citizen, while Republicans protect the wealthy

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posted November 10, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Bush did influence Roe V Wade’s future…by his appointments to the U. S. Supreme Court. Fortunately it hasn’t been tested again there. Choice needs to remain legal.

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posted November 10, 2008 at 9:22 pm

“The good news for Obama is that his argument during the fall campaign — that we should seek common ground ways of reducing abortion — tapped into a real public desire. The bad news is that he now has to deliver on that promise, or risk alienating millions of pro-life Americans who voted for him.”
Not necessarily. The real question is whether their vote had anything to do with abortion. There are people who consider themselves pro-life who are not single issue voters. For them, the pro-life issue was not the linchpin of their vote.

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posted November 11, 2008 at 1:29 am

I am a Catholic Obama supporter who wants some scriptural based arguments to convince my one issue friends and relatives that there is more to Pro-Life than just the abortion issue. I need to approach them respectfully, intelligently, and spiritually. I understand the emotions involved but there has to be a way that we can agree to disagree without one side feeling that they know exactly what God wants or another side feeling damned by those who hold that position.

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posted November 11, 2008 at 9:53 am

I’m pro-life and I voted for Obama. I favor legal restrictions on abortion, essentially what was voted down in South Dakota: making it legal only in cases where the life or health of the mother would be endangered or in cases of rape or incest. If it was illegal, I think there’d almost have to be a criminal penalty of some sort for violating the law, but I doubt it would be classed as a felony.
I also agree that it makes sense to provide better sex education for kids, to make birth control more affordable and accessible, and to broaden the social welfare safety net so more parents can take care of their unplanned for children.
I voted for Obama not because I don’t want abortion to be illegal but because I weighed that belief against my belief in the other things he promised to do such as reforming the health care system and resolving the war in Iraq and determined that he would be more likely to end suffering and help people than McCain would. I don’t vote for a candidate based only on my position on abortion.

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