Social & Domestic Issues

NBC-WSJ Roe v. Wade poll: 41% ‘I dunno’

NBC-WSJ Roe v. Wade poll: 41% 'I dunno'

A NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Jan. 22 found that many Americans consider themselves under informed about the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, but supportive of restoring legal protections to unborn children.

Asked: “Do you approve or disapprove the Roe versus Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision? If you don’t know enough about this to have an opinion, please just say so and we’ll move on,” 41 percent of respondents said they did not know enough about it to comment. Of those who did respond, 39 percent said they approved and 18 percent said they disapproved.

The poll’s second question asked: “The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Would you like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe versus Wade decision, or not?”

The language in the second question is exactly the same language used by the Bloomberg news service in 2005. In two different polls that year, Bloomberg found that in July 65 percent, and in December 66 percent, did not want Roe v. Wade overturned. In the just released NBC-WSJ poll, 70 percent said they did not want the decision overturned, a jump of 4 points, barely outside the margin of error.

The poll’s 3.1 percent margin of error was based on the sample population of 1,000 adults from across the country.

Democrats made up 45 percent of the sample, with Republicans 32 percent and Independents 19 percent.

The poll’s last question used the same language employed by The Los Angeles Times in 2008: “Which comes closest to your view on abortion: abortion should always be legal; should be legal most of the time; should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life; or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?”

The poll was conducted for NBC and the Wall Street Journal by Peter Hart, founder of the Washington-based Peter D. Hart Research Associates, is the pollster for Emily’s List and several Democratic members of Congress and governors. Hart also is a pollster and consultant to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Greenpeace.

Hart was joined on the poll by Bill McInturf, a partner and co-founder of the Alexandria, Va.-based Public Opinion Strategies. One of McInturf’s fellow partner and co-founders at the firm is Neil Newhouse, who was the pollster for the 2012 white House campaign of former Massachusetts governor W. Mitt Romney.

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