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Harper Poll: PA Dems Split on Abortion & More

Harper poll Dem generic pie chartIf 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.

15 Responses

  1. After reading Joe’s comments, it seems there are indeed two PAs. The conservative one and the progressive one, both at odds with one another.

  2. Joe……..Conservative Democrats have sold out the party. That’s why you live in a ‘Center-Right’ country as you do. Idiot!

  3. It seems like Harper could have simply asked “Do you consider yourself Pro-Life or Pro-Choice” and just left it at that.

  4. What’s interesting is that Pennsylvania has a very interesting young demographic in regards to young voters. I’m a young voter and I can tell you that many people my age differ greatly on huge issues even though we vote in the same party.

  5. Liz is right.if the other questions are as poorly designed, the poll shows only one thing-that polls are being used as propaganda by some partisan hacks

  6. That is the most leading and poorly worded abortion question I have ever seen, thanks for including the wording so we can see how skewed this is.

  7. Joe, you are acting like a total jack@$$. You are dropping bombs and google translations like it’s nobody else’s business. If you have so much hatred towards liberals and progressives, then get out of the Democratic Party. Holden is gone, Critz is gone (and hopefully won’t be back) and Casey has taken strong moves left. I only wish the Reagan Democrats in Johnstown, Greensburg and elsewhere would put the energy they waste into bashing liberals here into filling out a new voter registration form and become the Republicans they are.

  8. I am grateful for the fact that this poll demonstrates that the Democratic Party is the real “Big Tent” political party in Pennsylvania. While Democrats generally agree in certain major policy areas revolving around the economy, education, and the environment, they are open to a wide array of views on the topic of life. I imagine that a similar survey of Pennsylvania Republicans would show a much more uniform response on the question regarding life than the Democratic electorate. This is evidence to me that being a Pennsylvania Democrat means that one has the opportunity to enjoy a robust discussion regarding issues concerning abortion rather than having to live within the confines of a political party that mandates a one-size-fits-all litmus test on issues of this nature.

  9. вперед товарища. Excuse my fast paced typing. I can’t believe I was being interpreted as a prog.

  10. @Ryan
    Форвард цомраде. That means “Forward Comrade” in Russian. I am not advocating for PA becoming a mini- Soviet dictatorship like NY or NJ. Schmucks like you are the problem with this country. My ancestors on my mother’s side fled eastern Europe and mostly settled in PA, MI, IA, and IN. I currently live here in PA, and don’t want it turning into a progressive shit hole. Hopefully the blue dogs beat the progressive shits into a corner, because you guys have seriously FUCKED THINGS UP!

  11. @Joe – Pennsylvania is a conservative, blue dog Democratic state… That’s the problem. It should be far more progressive, and the hope is that with the next governor, the Democratic party and the state will move in a more forward bound direction.

  12. Dear Harper: Do the majority of Soccer Moms in Montgomery County believe there is a GOP WAR ON WOMEN?

  13. @Joe — Blue Dogs are nothing more than “In the Closest” Republicans. Its a shame that Tea Party Radicals have driven the Republican Party so far to the right and essentially driven moderates out of the Party. Its also had a negative effect on the Democratic Party because we’re infested with Blue Dogs when what we need to be is the party for Progressives/Liberals.

  14. Pennsylvania is a conservative, BUE-DOG Democrat state. Pennsylvania is not New York or New Jersey, and is certainly no where near Maryland or California blue as well. The only true blue- dog (potential) candidate on a Dem ticket is Jack Wagner. I still know very little about Rob McCord and whether or not he will be a Bloomberg Bitch. I believe that Mark Kritz will be perfect on the Lt. Gov slot. Everyone pretty much knows who Jack Wagner is, but McCord better be or at least evolve to being a true blue-dog. And no, Rendell wasn’t a blue-dog. Anyone other than Wagner or (Maybe) MCord will result in me sticking with the current lazy sleaze, Tom Corbett.

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