I’ve long been frustrated by liberal/progressive candidates who hide the ball on their websites and in campaign material when it comes to stating their support for abortion rights and birth control. If they mention it at all, candidates tend to make vague statements about women’s health being important.
Yeah, duh, and we all hate war and love puppies, too.
Today, I heard a well-regarded pollster speak about what happens when voters know and understand candidates’ positions on abortion, birth control, and Planned Parenthood. Anna Greenberg, Ph.D., of Greenberg Quinla Rosner Research, has data that I’d like to share with those candidates who are afraid to be too loud or too specific about their reasonable, noncontroversial support for birth control. (BIRTH CONTROL, people!)
Democrats draw even with regressive, anti-birth control Republican opponents when their positions on birth control are stated.
Here’s data from one poll her firm conducted for EMILY’S List and Planned Parenthood Action Fund in battleground states during March, 2012.
The poll first asked whether the voter would vote, if the election were that day, for the Democratic candidate or the Republican. 42% would vote or leaned D; 47%, R.
They then tested two versions of a “candidate A believes this/candidate B believes that” follow-up question.
The first version included standard party line messaging about economic issues. This pulls the D percentage up from 42% to 47%, but the R percentage moves up, too, to 53%.
When the question is amended to explicitly mention that the D candidate supports access to birth control and the requirement that insurance companies cover it, and points out that the R incumbent opposes requiring insurance companies to cover it, things get better for the D. Knowing that the Democrat supports reasonable birth control policy makes 48% say they’d vote/they lean towards the D; 48% say they’d vote/they lean towards the R.
In other words, people are less likely to support the Republican incumbent once they hear about that candidate’s regressive stance on birth control, and more likely to support the Democratic challenger because they understand that the Democrat represents their mainstream belief about birth control and fairness.
I’ve participated in a small way in the conversation about whether the phrase and concept war on women is a winner for progressives. The phrase itself, not so much. Greenberg demonstrated fairly conclusively, however, through polling and focus group data, that the story of why I and so many others believe there is a war on women does resonate, and does motivate and move voters.
More on this to come.