Thursday, March 31, 2016

Will Trump benefit from the fact that 75% of conservative white women think abortion should be legally restricted?

It's not obvious to me that Trump's abortion comments will hurt him, particularly in the upcoming Republican primaries. From the GSS, the percentages of men and women, by political orientation, who do not think it should be "possible for a pregnant woman to obtain an abortion" without restriction. For contemporary relevance and to avoid racial confounding, only white responses from 2008 onward are included (n = 3,941):

No abortionMenWomen

Liberal women are more pro-choice than liberal men, while conservative women are more pro-life than conservative men.

If abortion were illegal then presumably three-fourths of conservative white women would want some sort of consequence to be attached to illegally obtaining one. In head-to-head polling, Trump crushes Cruz among conservative men but just narrowly edges him out among conservative women. How do conservative ladies respond to the shrill "war on women" rhetoric? We may soon find out.

It's not clear that the nuance required to reach the seemingly unavoidable logical conclusion that if abortion is illegal then it follows that necessity demands a legal consequence for obtaining one to be in place will be appreciated in the face of context-free headlines that read "Donald Trump: There has to be some form of punishment [for abortion]".

Irrespective of the immediate electoral consequences, the sunlight this exposes on masturbatory values conservatism is worth its weight in gold. The pro-life organizations and their apologists that maintain both that abortion is murder and that a woman who elects to have an abortion shouldn't be punished for it are experiencing an unexpectedly large amount of push back.

Check out the comments to Ben Shapiro's critical article on Trump's remarks. Scrolling through them, a few things immediately jump out. While the commenters are at pains to point out that they like Shapiro and dislike Trump, they are in nearly unanimous disagreement with Shapiro on the subject itself. This is a friendly crowd that thinks Shapiro is dead wrong.

Parenthetically, the objection that abortionists should be punished instead of the women soliciting their services is unconvincing. If the priors are that a fetus is a human life, how is the relationship between a woman seeking an abortion and the abortionist she employs any different from the relationship between a woman seeking an executioner to off her infant and the executioner she employs?

If a doctor doesn't provide the service is it okay for her to initiate it on her own? If so, then the distinction between punishing the doctor and punishing the woman isn't merely semantic, it actually endangers women who would presumably be free to attempt to abort on their own but not to do so with the help of a physician.

Trump's biggest mistake may turn out to be trying to walk his comments back. His instincts are good. He should trust them.

GSS variables used: ABANY, SEX, YEAR(2008-2014), RACECEN1(1), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)


pithom said...

"Trump's biggest mistake may turn out to be trying to walk his comments back. His instincts are good. He should trust them."

-Then he would have to focus on Iowa in the general, which he lost in the primaries, not New Hampshire and PA, which he won/will win. Not a good idea. I think his remarks hurt him all around, just for the blatant display of indecision. People don't like indecisive men.

Audacious Epigone said...


It could be a bridge too far but just the full context of this particular exchange, let alone what he's said in the past, is enough to make it obvious that Trump is not a pro-life crusader in the least. Fully agree regarding the waffling--it's all bad.

LOL said...

you dog you

The Z Blog said...

Trump is the one candidate who can come out and say, "I misspoke" and people will move on. The reason is he is always on TV and is willing to sit across from anyone. Ted Cruz would never subject himself to Chris Mathews, for example. Most GOP'ers are scared bleepless of the media. Trump just rolls with the punches.

My observation with Trump voters is they know he is all over the map on most issues. His instincts on key issues like immigration, however, are what they trust. They suspect he may not always get to the right answer, but he is trying to get to the right answer. The other options are just paid liars trained to fool people.

Wisconsin is going to be a bad day for him. These Yankeedom states like Wisconsin and Minnesota are never going to be easy for a guy like Trump. That's why guys like Scott Walker and Paul Ryan are such lousy national candidates. They come off as wimps. To the people of Wisconsin, however, Trump is just rude.

Look at the rest of April. Trump should run the table. It's going to be real hard for Kristol, Rove, Lowry, et al to maintain the media campaign they have been running.

Audacious Epigone said...


If Kasich dropped out tomorrow and Trump and Cruz split the vote 50/50 going forward--which would be a tremendously strong showing for Cruz given that almost all of his strong states (Wisconsin notwithstanding) have already gone and that the race has barely touched Trump's home turf of the Northeast yet--Trump eclipses the magic 1,237 number.

New York, for example, is WTA by district and also statewide. In a Trump-Cruz primary, Trump wins all 95 of those delegates easily. With Kasich, it'll probably be more like 70 or so of them.

Cruz has to know that without Kasich in, the chances of a brokered convention are low. I suspect something is already in the works between the two of them (Cruz as president, Kasich as VP) contingent upon Kasich limping along and failing to win even a single additional state, Kasich's protestations to the contrary be damned.

On the other hand, because there are no convention rules yet and they can be crafted at the commencement of the gathering over the summer, Kasich may be going for the gold, figuring the convention delegates--who are largely state- and county-level political hacks--will prefer him to Cruz after the rules committee revises the rules from 2012 to allow him to be on subsequent ballots.

How great would it be for a guy who campaigned for the entirety of the primary/caucus season and only won a single state (where he is the sitting governor) to be given the Republican crown?

If Trump doesn't want to risk the nomination by charging the walls--confident that the force of the Trump Train to smash through them and propel him inside the citadel--after Wisconsin but before New York is the time to make a deal with Kasich to get him to bow out.
If the convention is contested, it's inconceivable to me that Trump wins. The delegates who are pledged to vote for him the first round are not his people. They are mostly people chosen by state and county Republican parties across the country.

It's not just that he'll have trouble convincing delegates for other candidates to come to his side after the first round of voting, it's that his delegate support will plunge in the second round as the hacks who have to vote for him but don't want to (and more importantly know that their spots on the political gravy train stop if they cross the GOPe by sticking with the guy they're putatively there to support) in the first round of voting go to whoever has promised them the most inside the party.

It will, however, be yet another illustration of just how corrupted the American political process is, and thanks to smart phones we'll all get to see it up close and in real time.

silly girl said...

"If abortion were illegal then presumably three-fourths of conservative white women would want some sort of consequence to be attached to illegally obtaining one."


The punishment was and whould be for the service provider.

Surely we can understand that a woman under duress of circumstance might be motivated to seek abortion.

However, the provider is under no such duress and his participation is therefore in a different category of motive.

Loss of a medical license without possibility of reinstatement would be cheap and effective enforcement.

Audacious Epigone said...


Then abortion is not tantamount to murder. If an overwhelmed mother took her toddler to an executioner, would she be similarly free
of responsibility? Do these women have no agency? If there is no provider and she does it herself is she culpable then? What if something akin to the day after pill but for the second trimester comes along, guilt at that point?