The Pew Research Center has a very interesting new survey on attitudes toward gun control and abortion after President Barack Obama took office. Within the space of a year, views that were once firmly in the majority for both gun control and broadly-legal abortion are now nearly neck-and-neck – and it’s not just the choir getting preachier:
The balance of opinion among independents has changed substantially over the past year. In April 2008, a majority of independents (56%) said it was more important to control gun ownership; currently, independents are divided, with 48% saying it is more important to protect gun rights and 45% saying it is more important to control gun ownership. …
There has been notable decline in the proportion of independents saying abortion should be legal in most or all cases; majorities of independents favored legal abortion in August and the two October surveys, but just 44% do so today. In addition, the proportion of moderate and liberal Republicans saying abortion should be legal declined between August and late October (from 67% to 57%). In the current survey, just 43% of moderate and liberal Republicans say abortion should legal in most or all cases.
I think what this shows is what I’ve called the grace period that independents are giving Obama. They understand that he’s in the most unenviable position of any incoming president in 50 years, and as a result continue to give Obama high poll numbers. Even as the government creeps toward nationalizing industries, it’s seen as the lesser of two evils. But Obama seems to have actually increased polarization on a set of issues about which he’s said virtually nothing since taking office. Perhaps he should talk more about them. Call it the Reverse Biden.
I’m a tech journalist who’s making a TV show about a college newspaper.