Last week, CNN released the results of an exit poll that was conducted in Ohio on Election Day. This poll surveyed 3,658 Ohio voters in different locations around the state. The poll correctly predicted that 43 percent of Ohio voters would vote against Issue 1, which placed legal abortion in Ohio’s state constitution. Additionally, the demographic breakdown of the polling results provides some insights that might help pro-lifers in the future.
First, the results indicate that Ohio pro-lifers did a good job communicating with like-minded people. The exit poll indicates that 82 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of conservatives voted against Issue 1. Similarly, 97 percent of people who thought abortion should be “illegal in all cases” and 94 percent of people who thought that abortion should be “illegal in most cases” also cast votes in opposition to Issue 1.
Second, pro-lifers did a poor job convincing swing voters to vote against Issue 1. The CNN exit poll found that only 31 percent of moderates and 36 percent of independents voted against Issue 1. Perhaps even more important, only 17 percent of people who thought abortion should be legal in most circumstances voted in opposition to issue 1. This particular subset of voters is likely sympathetic to some protective pro-life laws. However, arguments that Issue 1 would endanger incremental pro-life laws failed to resonate with this group of voters.
Third, parents failed to oppose Issue 1 in large numbers. The exit poll found that only 42 percent of parents with children under 18 voted against Issue 1. Men with children were somewhat more likely to oppose Issue 1 than other demographics, but women with children were actually less likely than average to oppose Issue 1. This is an important finding. A key talking point for opponents of Issue 1 was that it would endanger Ohio’s pro-life parental-involvement law. While parental-involvement laws poll well, it appears that this particular argument failed to persuade large numbers of parents to oppose Issue 1.
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Supporters of legal abortion are planning to launch direct-democracy campaigns in numerous other states. These ballot questions certainly pose important challenges for pro-lifers. The key finding from this Ohio exit poll is that parents failed to oppose Issue 1 in large numbers. It is not clear why this is the case, but it should be noted that teen-pregnancy rates have fallen dramatically during the past 30 years. As such, parents today may be less concerned about teen abortions than parents were a generation ago. All in all, a greater emphasis on halting late-term abortions or preventing taxpayer funding for abortion might serve pro-lifers better in future direct-democracy campaigns.
LifeNews Note: Michael J. New is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New
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