What happens when you create a poll with the objective of gathering real, honest feedback from voters?
That's exactly what we aimed to do when we polled 750 Alabamans about the new abortion restrictions signed into law by Governor Ivey.
Designing and conducting the bipartisan poll with our Republican polling partner JMC Analytics and Polling, the results provide insight into a population of citizens who are deeply conflicted on the issues raised in the latest round of GOP abortion legislation.
You can see the full report with questions and crosstabs here.
Here are some notable results:
- Only 14 percent of Alabama voters approve of the restrictive bill as signed. That's fewer than 1 in 6 voters in one of America's most conservative and religious states.
- When asked if they believe doctors should be imprisoned for performing abortions, only 33 percent said they approve or strongly approve. Of the remaining responses, 29 percent were "undecided".
- Only 7 percent believed that a woman who became pregnant as a result of rape should be forced to carry the fetus to term
- Only 8 percent believed a woman should be investigated for any pregnancy that does not come to term and only 8 percent believed a woman should be imprisoned for having an abortion.
These are astonishing results in heavily conservative, heavily religious Alabama. And these results point to some real conflict in the hearts and minds of voters. What could be going on?
Voters are conflicted
In many of the questions, there were high numbers of respondents who said they were "undecided". I think it is safe to say that a more accurate word might be "conflicted". For example 59 percent were undecided about whether they favored or opposed women being able to take a morning after pill. Forty-nine percent were undecided about whether a woman should be required to give birth after a sexual assault resulting in pregnancy.
JMC and Bold Blue Campaigns went into this poll not knowing what to expect, but firmly committed to learning the real sentiments of voters. We learned that when you strip away the agendas and commit to listening to and learning from voters, you’ll find that the assumptions we make, the caricatures we have of each other don’t match up to the truth. This poll shows that voters in one of the most conservative and religious states in America are conflicted on this issue.
Ideology in isolation is easy.
Why the conflict? It's likely because their beliefs are being challenged by the personal experiences of their friends and families. When juxtaposed against the realities of life - one in five women will be sexually assaulted, 15-20% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage - hard line ideological positions soften. Suddenly these issues are very real and this is why you see high "undecideds" in the responses to certain questions.
Politicians and money are part of the problem
The poll we conducted would not have been difficult for Alabama's Republican legislators to carry out. If they were prioritizing understanding their constituents, 80 percent of our respondent identified as Evangelical - perhaps they would have discovered what we did. That fewer than 1 in 6 Alabamans approve of the restrictions that were eventually signed into law. Instead, legislators seem only to be sensitive to the agendas of the well funded "pro life" organizations who give them money. They assume voters won't be paying attention (at best) or at worst, that they can be easily manipulated into accepting the legislation after the fact. It's a shoot first ask questions later style of legislating. And ask forgiveness instead of permission style of governing.
It's time to govern with integrity
Alabama is not the only state passing restrictive abortion laws. In Republican dominated states everywhere, legislators are passing bills that without so much as checking in with actual voters. With push polls and partisan polls coming from all directions, we are proud of the honest data finding effort we undertook with JMC Analytics and Polling. Governor Ivey and others may feel fine signing bills into law without listening to voters, but for us at Bold Blue Campaigns, it reinforces the reality that no state should be out of reach for Democratic candidates. Voters are thoughtful and capable of nuanced positions and all that is needed is qualified, capable and well supported candidates to challenge those who believe they don't have to listen to their constituents. We are committed to supporting candidates while they run for local and state offices in Alabama and other "impossible" states in 2020 and beyond.
Learn more about how we are making real progress happen in local and state races across the country here. This grassroots fueled movement is not possible without people like you.