The polling data on abortion in Texas

From the Trib:

At a time when Texas is poised to outlaw the vast majority of abortions if the nation’s highest court overturns constitutional protections for the procedure, a recent University of Texas at Austin poll shows most Texan voters think access to abortion should be allowed in some form.

Texas would make performing most abortions a felony if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade — a future that looks considerably more likely after a nonbinding draft opinion was leaked from the high court Monday. Constitutional protections for abortion could be struck down as soon as this summer.

The university conducted the poll in April before the court’s document was leaked. The survey found that 78% of respondents believe abortion should be allowed in some form while only 15% said it should be never permitted.

If Roe is overturned, Texas would allow doctors to perform abortions only to save the life of a pregnant person or if that person risked “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”

Around 39% of poll respondents said Texans should always be able to obtain abortions as a matter of personal choice, and 11% of respondents thought abortions should be available for other reasons in addition to pregnancy resulting from rape.

The poll shows that 28% of respondents believe abortions should be available only in cases of rape or incest or when a person’s life is endangered by their pregnancy. And 7% said they didn’t know.

Respondents fell mostly along party lines. Of the Republicans surveyed, 42% said abortions should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or when a person’s life is in danger. The majority of Democrat respondents — 67% — said Texans should be allowed to seek an abortion as a personal choice.

But there were outliers. Among Republicans, 15% said Texans should always be allowed to seek an abortion and 12% said the law should allow Texans to seek abortions for reasons outside of just rape. On the flip side, 5% of Democrats said abortion should be completely outlawed and 13% said it should be allowed only in cases of rape or incest.

From the Chron:

The Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin has been tracking abortion trends for years. The researchers’ most recent poll, released in February, found that 53 percent of Texans oppose a complete ban on abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. (Thirty-four percent supported such a policy, and 13 percent didn’t know or had no opinion.)

“When we look at polling of Texas voters, what we find is an issue that people are, broadly, pretty split on,” said Joshua Blank, the research director of the Texas Politics Project. “But ultimately, you find most Texans supportive of at least some access. It’s much more nuanced to the electorate than, certainly, is being portrayed by elected officials looking to take victory laps.”

In February, 43 percent of Texans said they believed abortion laws here should be less strict, while 23 percent said they should stay the same. An additional 23 percent said they should be stricter, and 12 percent had no opinion. Texas banned abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy last September.

An overwhelming majority of Texans — 81 percent — believe abortion should be legal when a woman’s health is seriously endangered. About 73 percent support exceptions for rape or incest, and 58 percent say abortions should be legal if “there is a strong chance of a serious defect in the baby,” according to an October poll by the Texas Politics Project.

Texas’ six-week abortion ban provides no exceptions for rape, incest or severe fetal abnormality.

Ten years of aggregated polling data from Gallup estimates that 70 percent of Texans believe abortion should be legal at least in some circumstances. About 18 percent believe it should be legal under all circumstances, while 10 percent said it should be legal in most and 42 percent said it should be legal in only a few. An additional 26 percent said the procedure should be outlawed entirely.

That’s in line with most other GOP-led states, according to Gallup.

“Although technically a competitive or ‘purple’ state in terms of how it voted in the past two presidential elections, Texas is more closely aligned with ‘red’ — that is, strongly Republican — states when it comes to its residents’ views on abortion,” Gallup analysts wrote in October.

Another October survey, by researchers at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University, found that nearly 7 in 10 Texans believed the state’s six-week abortion ban was overly restrictive. Still, a majority of residents — 55 percent — supported the law, according to the poll.

At least since 2014, roughly equal portions of Texans have identified as “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” The Texas Politics Project is scheduled to release another poll Wednesday showing roughly similar trend lines, Blank said.

In February, 42 percent of voters said they were pro-choice; 38 percent said they were pro-life. Thirteen percent said they were neither, and 7 percent didn’t know.

“When we talk about abortion attitudes in the public, we’re talking about a set of opinions that, for the most part, are fixed and reinforcing,” Blank said. “Most people know what they think about abortion because they’ve been exposed to these arguments for much of their adult lives.”

But, he noted, most of those “opinions and attitudes” have been developed in a post-Roe world. That makes it difficult to predict how voters will feel or react if the high court does allow states to completely prohibit the procedure.

We’ve seen and talked about a lot of this data before. It’s important to remember three things: How the questions are worded really matters, people don’t always know exactly what the state of current abortion law is in Texas (in particular, lots of people don’t know everything about SB8), and people’s opinions on abortion may not affect how they vote or motivate them to vote.

The big question is whether this impending sea change will have a significant effect on voter behavior this year. One could argue that SB8 effectively banned abortion in Texas already and it didn’t seem to have much effect, but the confusing mechanisms of SB8 may have dampened any effect. The evisceration of Roe is a dominant national news story and will be again when the opinion in that Mississippi case is actually handed down, and there seems to be a big psychological effect in overturning Roe, as some national polls have shown that people had simply not believed that would ever happen. You could argue that the 2014 gubernatorial race was about abortion, at least to some extent, but the dynamics of that race and that year are just very different.

I don’t think we have any idea yet how this will play out, and we may not have even a vaguely decent guess at it for a few more months. We are truly in new territory, and we need to be very careful about what assumptions we make and what past events we extrapolate from. There’s clearly some energy on the Democratic side about this, but it’s May and we don’t know how long that might last. We just don’t know. But we can work to make what we want happen. Maybe now more people will be in on that. It’s our best hope.

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20 Responses to The polling data on abortion in Texas

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    Follow the science. Soon only the most extreme people will be for third term and birth canal abortions. Even Biden admitted it was killing a child.

  2. Flypusher says:

    People who get abortions that late in a pregnancy are doing so because there is something that has gone tragically wrong. Tell us exactly where in this country a woman in the 3rd trimester of a healthy, viable pregnancy can get an abortion with no oversight, no requirement for doctors’ approval?

    For the record, I oppose abortions that late unless there is a grave medical issue.

  3. C.L. says:

    Paul, 50% of the population does follow (the) science, the other 50% believe getting a virus vaccine came with the guv’ment planting a tracking chip in your noodle.

  4. Frederick says:

    A Republican saying to “follow the science”….I read that and laughed my ass off!!!

    And then probably in the same breath Paul probably espoused Qanon, Elivs still lives, the Earth is flat, the Moon landings were staged, and Trump won the presidency.


  5. Paul Kubosh says:

    Frederick, I was being sarcastic about the lefts continuous comments on follow the science. I think “follow the science” is like “Gender studies”. Stupid.

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    Flypusher, you don’t know the numbers. There is an obsession with Abortion on Demand. It is called “woman’s reproductive care”. The left makes it sound like they are going to outlaw birth control and gynecologist. Just an obsession. Lets go over a list of the stupid things:

    1. What is your pronoun?
    2. Gender Studies? What the heck is that?
    3. 1776 Project?
    4. CRT?
    5. Legalizing Marijuana will solve all of our problems?
    6. White People are Racist?
    7. Everyone who voted for Trump are worse than the KKK, Nazi’s, Communist, Antiffa, Proud Boys, and every other group in America that has killed people.
    8. The environmental worship is a religion.
    9. The Washington Redskins was racist.
    10. It is not Hunter Biden’s Laptop.
    11. Transwomen are biologically the same as women.

    On and On and On.

    I am not asking you to comment and explain. I just think all of these things are stupid. Like getting a degree in Advanced Gender Studies and having a Swimming Pool at a public school.

  7. Leonard says:

    Paul, swimming pools at public schools? Please elaborate.

  8. Paul Kubosh says:

    Waste of Tax Payers funds. Like Bowling, etc. My point on the school issue is that we should be focused on reading, writing, and Arithmetic. Stop all the nonsense. We should teach all of our History. Making sure we cover the painful parts as well.

  9. Leonard says:

    So no football?

  10. Paul Kubosh says:

    Well of course we keep Football. That is how Boys become Men. I am sure a lot of you guys and girls never played tackle football.

  11. Leonard says:

    Lol, Paul. You crack me up.

  12. Mainstream says:

    I attended a university which required proficiency in swimming to graduate. Maybe every school does not need a pool, but in a part of the USA with unpredictable flooding and cars which get swept away into creeks, teaching basic survival swimming as a part of the phys ed curriculum would seem a good investment for the community.

  13. Jonathan Freeman says:

    A female friend claimed that if men could get pregnant, we’d have drive thru kiosks for abortion, further suggesting that men obsessed with preventing abortions would gain more traction in reducing there frequency by not making life so hard on unwed mothers. It’s a sensitive subject for women who see the extremists make it very clear that the goal is to outlaw abortions altogether, the use of late trimester abortions as commonplace is part of their fiction.

    Mainstream makes a better case for teaching swimming given it is a skill that most of us will find more useful than abstract calculus or tiny details of historical figures that at best come in handy playing trivia pursuit or jeopardy. Sticking with the three R’s around here sounds great until they graduate and find lack of any Spanish skills keeps them working in menial positions. Assuming the reference to gender studies is at the university level, a degree in the subject is rewarded by a career path teaching it to others.

  14. Fritz Kraut says:

    Gymnasium thought, classic:

    Mens sana in corpore sano would seem to be valid and time-proven motto.

  15. Flypusher says:

    I don’t know the numbers? Even though there is poll after poll after poll on the subject, and the all the info is a few clicks away? Get real. Here’s some info from Forbes, for example:

    “Strongest support for abortion—within limits: An Associated Press/NORC poll in June found 87% support abortion when the woman’s life is in danger, 84% support exceptions in the case of rape or incest, and 74% support abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness.

    When abortion support drops: The further into the pregnancy, with AP/NORC finding 61% believe abortion should be legal during the first trimester, but only 34% in the second trimester and 19% in the third, and an April Wall Street Journal poll finding more Americans approve of 15-week abortion bans than disapprove.”

    Abortion on demand, for any reason, at any time, is an extreme left wing position, and according to the poll above, only 19% approve. That’s probably the highest numbers I’ve seen for that, and I also note that no law anywhere in this country currently permits that. In contrast, the extreme right wing position (not allowed for any reason), is even less popular, and there are right wingers actually passing laws with the intent of doing a complete ban. Marsha Blackburn actually said that Griswold is alleged poorly decided, so yes there are RWNJs gunning for birth control. But you’d have us believe both sides are equally bad? Not even close.

    As for the rest, your personal beefs with various left wing agenda items are complete non sequiturs.

  16. Flypusher says:

    Extracurricular activities are an important part of the education process, and for some kids are the thing that keeps them in school long enough to finish. What a dull curriculum you propose.

  17. Paul Kubosh says:

    Fly pusher,

    Wrong on why kids stay I. School. Has nothing to do with swim class and bowling.

  18. Manny says:

    Paul and you know that, “why kids stay, how?

  19. Paul Kubosh says:


    Talking to you is like talking to a rock.

  20. Manny says:

    So, Paul, you don’t know so you resort to insults. Typical Republican response.

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