Aaron Blake brings the charts to figure out whether Obama’s victory was actually some kind of victory for social liberalism. His conclusion: Of four “social issues,” liberals have only seen sustained gains with two.
The upward trends on marijuana and gay marriage are strikingly similar, with support steadily rising from less than 30 percent in the mid-1990s all the way to today, when about half the country supports both.
But if you look at abortion, Gallup polling actually shows support dropping below 50 percent since the mid-90s. The trend hasn’t been as pronounced as the upward trend for gay marriage and marijuana legalization, but it is statistically significant.
That’s based on non-election polling. The exit polls actually show a slight move toward liberalism on abortion, and a move among Catholics – the people who traditionally moderated the Democrats on that issue.
2004: 55 percent of voters say abortion should “always” or “mostly” be legal. Sixteen percent say abortion should “always” be illegal. Kerry (who is Catholic) loses the Catholic vote, 47-52.
2012: 59 percent say abortion should “always” or “mostly” be legal. Thirteen percent say abortion should “always” be illegal. Obama wins the Catholic vote, 50-48.
I think this backs up Blake’s point. The move toward abortion rights support was about as large as the surge from Kerry to Obama, whereas support for gay marriage and legal weed has moved more quickly.