Abortion Isn't Main Reason More Republicans Still Won't Back Doug Jones, New Poll Finds

Aside from the sexual misconduct allegations against Republican candidate Roy Moore, one of the top issues in the Alabama Senate race has been abortion.

Republicans have tried to portray Democratic candidate Doug Jones as extreme on the issue, with a super PAC running an ad claiming that he "supports abortion in even the most extreme circumstances." At a rally last month, Moore's wife told the crowd that Jones supported "full-term abortion."

And there's been significant speculation that if Jones were anti-abortion, maybe ― just maybe ― some Republicans who find Moore distasteful would vote Democratic.

But a new poll questions that assumption.

On Nov. 4-5, Clarity Campaign Labs, a Democratic polling firm, surveyed 707 Alabama voters in a survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood Votes. (Planned Parenthood has no involvement in the Alabama special election and has not endorsed a candidate.) The results were shared with HuffPost.

Clarity Campaign Labs was specifically interested in Republican voters who might be persuaded to back Jones. The survey found that less than 1.5 percent of Moore's supporters said they had considered switching and backing Jones.

The pollster then tried to figure out why those voters decided to stick with Moore. Was it because of Jones' support for abortion rights?

But Clarity didn't want to limit people with a list of possible answers. So they were asked to explain, in their own words, why they continued to reject Jones.

"Abortion wasn't really in the top couple issues people gave us," said John Hagner, the Clarity pollster who conducted the survey.

More than one-third of those Republican voters who said they decided not to switch to Jones gave a reason that fell into the category of just generally not liking him. Ten percent said they didn't like his personal history. (Jones is a former U.S. attorney best known for finally putting Ku Klux Klan members behind bars for blowing up an African-American church back in 1963.) Eight percent cited abortion as the reason.

"Of the people who were undecided, they weren't citing choice as the major driver," Hagner said. "Of the people who had considered voting for Jones and decided not to, there was a whole range of issues."

Clarity conducted the poll before women came forward and alleged that Moore had pursued them when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. Presumably, there are more Republicans giving Jones a second look. But Hagner said he didn't think abortion would now become a more significant factor in the race.

"If there was a pro-life Democrat running in this race, would he or she be doing better? We don't see any evidence here that that's the case," he added. "There are people who won't vote for any Democrat because of choice, but those are people who wouldn't vote for any Democrat. They aren't inclined, they're not winnable voters."

The specific controversy over Jones' abortion position arose from an MSNBC interview the candidate did on Sept. 27. Host Chuck Todd asked Jones what "limitations" he believes there should be when it comes to abortion.

"I am a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body," Jones said. "And I'm going to stand up for that and I'm going to make sure that that continues to happen."

Jones later clarified his position in a statement to HuffPost, saying, "Roy Moore and his allies will do anything to distort this race and lie about my position. This is a deeply personal decision. I support the current law on a woman's freedom to choose, which has been in place for decades, where late term abortions are permitted to protect the life or health of the mother."

Elizabeth BeShears, a communicationsconsultant in Alabama who has argued that abortion is a big factor in the Dec. 12 special election, said she believes that even if people didn't point to it, the issue is playing a role in their support for Moore.

"The abortion issue is a check-the-box issue for Republicans," BeShears said. "It's something that's important to them, and it's like, 'OK, he's Republican. Check. He's pro-life. Check.' Then they don't give any more thought to it than that necessarily. So it's a qualifying attribute and not the deciding attribute."

Hagner said he thinks the Republicans playing up Moore's anti-abortion stance are essentially trying to portray him as just an average Republican. Alabama is a Republican state where likely voters oppose legal abortion 62 percent to 28 percent, according to Hagner.

"I think it's an act of desperation," he said. "Even before the revelations [about his alleged pursuit of teenagers] came out, choice wasn't what was determining the race. I have a hard time imagining it's what's determining it now. I think what they're really trying to do is just reframe it as get back to a more generic Republican versus Democratic [race]."

The contest between Moore and Jones is incredibly tight. When Moore beat the establishment candidate in the GOP primary, Democrats suddenly realized they might have a chance at winning. Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has a national reputation for his religiously conservative positions, including his outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage.

Jones' chances are considered even stronger, not surprisingly, since the accusations about Moore's past behavior began pouring forth. Democrats in Alabama are working to expand their electorate ― primarily by getting more African-Americans to vote ― and to persuade some disgruntled Republicans to switch sides and vote for Jones (or, at the very least, stay home on Election Day).


More Related News

Shutdown looms as Trump weighs next move on border wall
Shutdown looms as Trump weighs next move on border wall

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress is racing to avoid a partial government shutdown next Friday over President Donald Trump's border wall. But you wouldn't know it by the schedule, as lawmakers left town waiting for the White House's next move.

How Trump Could Escape the Shutdown Trap
How Trump Could Escape the Shutdown Trap

Congress left town Thursday for a five-day weekend with no clear plans for how to avoid a partial government shutdown next week. Democrats said they were waiting for Republicans to make a move, Politico reported, while Republicans said they were waiting to hear from President Trump. Everybody's looking

Scott Walker Signs Wisconsin GOP's Massive Power Grab Into Law
Scott Walker Signs Wisconsin GOP's Massive Power Grab Into Law

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed legislation Friday that strips power

Republican U.S. Senator Kyl to resign on Dec. 31: Arizona governor
Republican U.S. Senator Kyl to resign on Dec. 31: Arizona governor

Republican U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, who was appointed to replace the late John McCain, will step down from office on Dec. 31, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement on Friday. Kyl was only expected to serve as a short-term placeholder to occupy the seat until after the November 2018 election. "Arizona needed someone who could hit the ground running from day one and represent our state with experience and confidence - and that's exactly what Senator Kyl has done," Ducey said in a statement.

GOP Hurtles Toward Shutdown With No Plan to Avoid It
GOP Hurtles Toward Shutdown With No Plan to Avoid It

In Paul Ryan's waning days as House speaker, leaders are wavering about whether to try to pass a spending bill with the $5 billion President Donald Trump is demanding for his wall at the Mexican border. Senate Republicans also haven't announced any plan to fund the government. At one point, third-ranking House Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana said Thursday the House would "move a bill" containing the $5 billion.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Latin America

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.