Abortion: Most Americans Just Tune Out the Noise and Dems Lose the Messaging War

There are a lot social issues that the GQP is using to divide the American public and conquer in elections. These are everything from abortion to guns to #COVID19 to race to the debt. And, they all have one thing in common: most Americans — and my most Americans, I mean middle class white suburban Americans — just tune them out when the rhetoric gets too heated.

In this two-part post, we’ll first explain the reason 70+% of Americans “support” issue maintaining Roe v. Wade in polls, but we end up with GQP majorities in the legislatures across the country that are trying to destroy it using the reporting of Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux over at FiveThirtyEight, who did a deep dive into the polls on abortion and came away with some interesting. Then, in the second part, we’ll review eview the ways Dems should’ve been able to predict the way Americans — remember the independent middle-class suburban white voter — would react and should’ve been prepared for it.

Like so many issues, Americans will tell posters that they support Roe v. Wade, and then those exact same voters will elect conservative GQP politicians who work to undermine it. So, where’s the disconnect? What’s happening here? What explains the disconnect?

Thomson-DeVeaux took a deep look at polling and did some interviewing and came to these conclusions:

  • People don’t like to think or talk about it. It’s a loaded confusing issue that many people have strong extreme views on. It’s a minefield. You never know when someone is going to go off when the subject comes up. In fact, recent polling suggests that most people don’t even know that Roe v. Wade is in danger of being overturned.
  • People don’t rank it very highly in political importance. Only 4% of people in a recent YouGov/The Economist poll ranked it as the most important issue in America. So, if you ask, should Roe v. Wade be the law of the land, 70+% say yes, but it isn’t what drives their vote.
  • People fall into three groups. For a small minority (10 – 15%), abortion should be illegal in all cases. For a larger minority (25 – 30%), it should be legal in all cases. And the rest (55 – 65%), it should be legal in most cases, but restricted in others. The restrictions range from everything other rape, incest, and protecting the mother’s life, to permitted until late term.
  • People don’t know much about the technical details of pregnancy. The standard in Roe v. Wade is viability of the fetus. Until the fetus in viable, abortion should be available. There is widespread agreement on that point and that abortion should be available in the first trimester (60%) but is much more limited in the second (28%). The funny thing is viability doesn’t begin until the end of the second trimester.
  • People think that the decision to have an abortion is personal. In a recent ABC News/The Washington Post poll  75% thought that the decision about having an abortion should be made between a woman and her doctor without state interference.
  • People have many misconceptions of abortion. Surveys have found that most people don’t understand pregnancy well enough to really evaluate the laws that are on being proposed and debated in the courts.
    • Most people think that abortions happen much later in pregnancies than they actually do. The reality is that the vast majority of abortions happen in the first trimester but after six weeks of pregnancy.
    • Most people don’t know how long a pregnancy lasts in terms of weeks and don’t do the math to figure out when the trimesters are if they do. Pregnancy is approximately 40 weeks long making the first trimester from one to twelve weeks, the second, thirteen to twenty-six, and the third twenty-seven to forty.
    • Most people don’t know how their state regulates abortion.
    • Few people know whether their states have a trigger law or not. A trigger law is a law that would ban abortion should SCOTUS overturn Roe v. Wade. Currently twelve states have trigger laws.
    • Most people think that abortion is much more dangerous than it is.
    • The Texas abortion-ban is the exception. Many people are upset about it, including forced birthers.
  • People don’t pay attention to abortion news unless its been in the news with sustained coverage for a few weeks.

I reckon that most Americans have the same reaction to most of the divisive issues facing the country today. Once the extreme right takes over an issue and raises its hysteria level to an eleven, then many of the iNdEpEnDeNt VoTeRs just tune it out and ignore it.

Knowing the reasons that people do tune out issues can help shape not only the Democratic Party’s messaging around these issues, but the way you and I behave towards our friends and neighbors in recruiting them to vote against the impending GOP Dystopia, so have a look at part-two of the post.

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There’s lots to comment on in this post! Why not let us know your views?

  • On abortion in general. Everyone has their own nuanced thoughts. I’d love to discuss yours.
  • Opinions about why people don’t vote like they respond to pollsters!
  • Your explanation about why people are so gosh-darn stupid about abortion and other issues facing America?

Or you could just settle for liking, rating, or sharing this post.

Image Attribution

“abortion protest in San Francisco – 052” by Steve Rhodes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

14 replies »

  1. “Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe.” – H. G. Wells

    The ignorance on all things about pregnancy and abortion is, I’m sure, most profound among men. Most men really don’t want to think about it, let alone think hard about it. They just want to pass out the cigars and leave it all to the mother until the kid is old enough to be fun.

    Probably the item in any school curriculum as fraught as History Of Racism In America (aka, CRT) is Sex And Human Reproductive Biology.

    Words are strange things, and “abortion” is one much misunderstood. The standard of the Point of Viability not only makes medical sense, but also semantic sense. If a fetus leaves the womb before that point it is either an abortion or a miscarriage. After that point, whether spontaneously or medically vacillated, it is a birth because the possibility of survival is there. In that sense, there is no such thing as a third trimester abortion, even though emergency medical intervention in that stage may result in the delivery of a still birth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      It just shows how easy it is to twist issues to your desired outcomes and how difficult it is to get them back on track.

      What was interesting in the interviews of people is how often respondents said that they had made up their mind on abortion and just didn’t want to hear about it again. It is the turning away from the venomous argument that abortion has become that allows the tiny minority who cares so much about it to direct the debate and laws.

      The Republicans have applied these lessons to gun rights, the debt, immigration, and race. We can’t let them do it to democracy or else we really will be in for an extended period of minority rule.


      Liked by 1 person

      • So, the more black-and-white, all-or-nothing, venomous, hysterical, and utterly unpleasant you can make the framing of a question, the more most people will try to avoid engaging in it, or even hearing about it. The trouble is that any attempt to be “reasonable”, “thoughtful”, or looking for a middle ground gets you attacked by the extremists on both sides. In that sense, the Liberal disadvantage is the need of people who think of themselves as liberal wanting to be seen as “reasonable”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          One of the things that came out of the public conformity research, the diffusion of responsibility studies, is that people fear being embarrassed about being wrong. They would rather let someone roll on the ground and suffer than risk being wrong and the embarrassment of offering aide to an uninjured person. White people won’t talk about race for fear of saying something that might be construed as racist and rather than accept that they might be awkward and clumsy and occasionally racist, they just say nothing. I think the same thing applies here. If you make the costs of public discourse high enough in terms of potential embarrassment, then people will disengage. If I were a proper social scientist, I would pursue that line of research.

          The louder the extremists on one side get, the more people crowd to the other pole and the louder they get. Democracy is about discussion and compromise. Anything that destroys discussion and compromise is embraced by the anti-democratic forces. The last thing they want is reasonable and thoughtful discourse.

          Unfortunately, it is hard to rally people to reasonable and thoughtful, but that’s what we’ve got to do.


          Liked by 1 person

          • Extreme positions tend to get one of two responses. People are either energized pro or con, or they disengage. The energized response becomes addictive when repeated frequently. I think the disengagement may also become so. Either way, getting to active reasonableness and thoughtfulness takes withdrawal from those addictions?

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I would argue most Americans, I mean middle class white suburban Americans, as a result of a by design failed education system, state sponsored religious indoctrination and the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on teevee kool-aid … are just too stupid.

    I had a student who called it all induced dyslexia …

    Liked by 1 person

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