Political Aptitude Test

May 8, 1996



[question]

See The Answer




[answer]

Abortion Opponents Have Intensity On Their Side

By Bill Schneider/CNN

WASHINGTON (May 9) -- The polls show that most Republicans actually support abortion rights, yet abortion opponents have an enormous amount of power.

Why? Is it because of...

  1. Intensity
  2. Numbers
  3. The Republican Platform
  4. The Catholic Church
  5. Money

      The answer is A, intensity. It's not numbers. In almost every Republican primary this year, majorities or pluralities of the voters said they oppose a platform plank that would ban abortions.

      It's not money. The abortion rights movement is well funded. It's not the Catholic Church. Most Catholics in this country disagree with the church's teaching on abortion.

      Abortion opponents have the advantage of intensity and commitment. They're more likely to be activists. The abortion issue is more likely to drive their vote.

      In 1992, more than 60 percent of voters nationwide said they thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But when voters were asked which specific issues mattered most to them in deciding how to vote, 12 percent named abortion. They were overwhelmingly anti-abortion and a majorty of them voted for George Bush.

      So who counts more? The 12 percent count more than the 60 percent. They just don't hold an opinion on abortion, they vote their opinion. And that's why a smart politician doesn't just look at the polls and go with the majority. The smart politician knows that those who hold the minority view may have intensity on their side. Siding with the majority could be very risky, because the majority won't care, but the minority will.

      That's exactly why abortion rights supporters like Govs. George Pataki of New York, Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and Pete Wilson of California are speaking out and threatening to challenge the GOP platform. Pat Buchanan has made it clear that if Republicans dare to try to modify their platform on abortion, they'll have to contend with him and his followers.

      Now the other side is trying to make it clear that if Republicans don't modify the platform, they'll have activists on the other side to contend with. In other words, abortion rights supporters are trying to equalize the intensity factor, even though they rarely have been able to do that in the past.

      This story originally appeared on CNN's "Inside Politics Extra."

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