Harper Poll: PA Dems Split on Abortion & More
If the latest survey from Harper Polling is the best guide, the Democratic primary for Governor may not be a simple race to the left.
The Republican pollster found a variety of opinions among Democrats on some of the basic issues of the campaign.
It’s the same poll that found Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz leading the gubernatorial primary with 22% of the vote. Former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty was in second place with 15%.
The key finding: 44% of respondents said they would prefer a “moderate Democrat who is more electable against a Republican,” versus 38% who said they would prefer a “liberal Democrat who champions progressive issues.”
For the most part, results on specific issue questions were mixed.
A majority of Democrats, 52%, said abortion should be legal in most or all cases. 43% said it should be illegal, or legal only in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.
Men took a more liberal view of the issue than women. They were about 4% more likely to support access to abortion.
Interestingly, younger Democrats were most likely to support restrictions on abortion. 60% of respondents ages 18 to 35 said abortion should either be totally illegal (16%), or legal only for those three exceptions (44%).
47% of respondents said they agreed with the Pa. Democratic Party’s call for an end to hydraulic fracturing, while 27% said they disagreed. The process is the key step in extracting natural gas from the Marcellus shale.
Only in the Pittsburgh/Southwest region did more Democrats oppose a fracking ban.
Overall, voters opposed “providing financial assistance to help parents in low-income families send their children to private or charter schools,” aka vouchers, by a solid 54% to 31% margin.
But respondents had widely different views based on race. White Democrats oppose vouchers 63% to 23%. But black Democrats support vouchers, 58% to 30%.
One issue yielded crystal clear results: taxing corporations and the wealthy. 9 out of 10 respondents said taxes should be higher for those groups, including 46% who said their taxes should be a great deal higher and 43% who said they should be somewhat higher.
The pollster surveyed 649 primary-voting Democratic voters via IVR on November 9 and 10. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.85% for responses given by the entire survey sample. Margins of error for crosstabulations (eg. support by gender or age) is significantly higher.
Harrisburg-based Harper Polling is a GOP firm, and while this survey did not appear to have a significant partisan bent its results should be taken with a grain of salt.
Case in point: the abortion question. Respondents were asked whether abortion should be:
1. Illegal in all cases;
2. Legal only in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger;
3. Legal within the first 12 weeks after conception; or,
4. Late-term abortions should be legal.
But many healthcare professionals define a late-term abortion as one that occurs after the 20th week of conception, not the 12th. Some believe abortions aren’t considered late-term until the third trimester, after the 27th week.
Many pro-life lawmakers have rallied around efforts to ban abortions after 20 weeks (including recently in Texas).
Thus, the poll question entirely omitted any answer option for moderately pro-choice Democrats: whether abortions should be legal between the 12th and 20th weeks of pregnancy.