After the Democratic National Convention included an unapologetic defense of reproductive rights for women, there was some predictable centrist hand-wringing. Had Democrats “lost their way” on abortion? On “This Week,” Cokie Roberts complained that the convention was “over the top in terms of abortion … Every single speaker talked about abortion, and you know, at some point, you start to alienate people.”
So this tidbit in the just-released Pew poll stands out: 48 percent of respondents preferred Barack Obama when it came to “reflecting your view on abortion.” That’s up by 13 points. Compare that to the 35 percent who said Mitt Romney reflected their views, following several weeks of Democrats working hard to equate Paul Ryan and the Republican platform with Todd Akin on rape and incest exceptions. (Despite Romney’s current support of them.) Obama also enjoyed similar growth on issues like foreign policy and healthcare, suggesting an overall lift. But there is no reason to think anyone was pushed away by Democrats defending their support for access to abortion or contraception.
Meanwhile, Obama maintains his overall lead with women: 56 percent of those polled supported him, while he and Romney split men evenly. Views on abortion don’t necessarily map by gender (though a lot depends on how the question is framed) and aren’t always a litmus test for voters. But women who support abortion rights were more likely to say that a candidate’s position on the issue is a deal-breaker in a CBS News poll conducted in late August. Those are the same women the Obama campaign has been determinedly trying to reach, including but not limited to putting Sandra Fluke in prime time at the DNC, after speeches by Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards and NARAL’s Nancy Keenan.
At the same time, Democratic enthusiasm is markedly up overall in contrast to the Republicans, according to the Pew poll. So much for “alienating people.”