Michael New, visiting assistant professor, business, published commentary in National Review on polls, public opinion, and abortion.
Buzzfeed published an interesting article recently by Ema O’Connor, entitled “No One Really Knows What Americans Think About Abortion.” O’Connor provides a detailed analysis of the recent polling on life issues. She notes that many Americans have nuanced views on abortion that are not reflected by the survey questions typically asked in polls and that responses are often affected by subtle changes in question wording. She also correctly points out that many polls are commissioned by advocacy groups that have a vested interest in obtaining a particular result.
O’Connor also seems to agree with the pro-life argument that polls on public opinion of Roe v. Wade tend to be unhelpful. In particular, she notes a PerryUndem poll finding that 30 percent of respondents weren’t sure what Roe was about or thought the case had to do with a topic other than abortion. Most Americans fail to understand the policy implications of the ruling in Roe, and others don’t know what would actually happen if it were overturned. As a result, O’Connor rightly concludes that many surveys are not particularly useful in helping us achieve a better understanding of public opinion on abortion. ...
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