I just finished scoping out four opinion polls about the HHS mandate that date from February, March, May and June of this year. For those who want it, the data and URLs are provided below. But first, here are my thoughts.
A May poll of Adult Americans showed a very high degree of passion and support for freedom of religion above all else. It’s very rare to get a ZERO in the Meh crowd. [Meh = Don’t Know, No Opinion, It Depends.] But that’s what this poll found when they asked,
“Should freedom of religion be protected, even if it conflicts with other laws?”
26% No vs. 74% Yes vs. 0% Meh.
Clearly, as a nation, we really care about religious freedom. I have seen this 1:3 split in other polls on hot issues, including in another question from that same May poll.
“Is it morally wrong to force health care workers and doctors to provide abortion when they object for religious reasons?”
27% No vs. 72% Yes vs. 1% Meh.
I believe the 1:3 reflects the Hard-Left vs. Center-Right divide in America today. The Democrat Media Complex blats about how they are the majority and we are the extremist fringey tinfoil hatters. But the real truth is the opposite.
This is something to keep in mind when talking to those critical Undecided voters. The Hard-Leftists are already committed to the Democrats, so the likelihood that an Undecided is fundamentally Center-Right on most issues is very, very high. Find their hot buttons and focus on how Obama Democrats have violated those core values.
I saw another phenomenon in the May poll that I’ve seen before. Despite 74% of these same people saying they supported freedom of religion above all else, when the questions got specific about birth control, abortion, etc., support for the primacy of religious freedom dropped to between 51% and 58%.
But it shouldn’t have mattered whether the question was “Does religious freedom trump everything?” or “Does religious freedom trump this, that or the other thing?” Everything should mean everything, right? Except apparently it didn’t for about one-third of the people who said it did.
I see the same disconnect in presidential approval polls. When the question is “Do you approve of the job Obama is doing?”, the numbers are always higher than they are for subordinate issues, like “Do you approve of the job Obama is doing on the economy?” or “the war in Afghanistan?” etc.
The best explanation I can come up with is that people weenie out on reporting their real opinions when there is a hot button issue in the question. The Democrat Media Complex hounds us with certain messages about what it means to be a “good” person. Like, “If you don’t like Barack Obama, you’re a dirty RAAAAACIST!!!” And “If you don’t support birth control, you HATE WOMEN!!!” So the poll questions that include a culturally-charged anxiety trigger get a less honest answer than one that homes in on a core value.
It could be the other way around. I.e., that these people are all for religious freedom as long as it doesn’t interfere with them getting free stuff. I hope not. Freedom of religion is the reason many of us (or our ancestors) left everything familiar to come here. I think we’re more attached to it than the Left realizes.
If I’m right, then the higher number in the straight-up “religious freedom is primary” question is the accurate number while the lower numbers that are attached to culturally-charged anxiety triggers are less accurate. I guess we’ll find out in November when voters are not answering a live pollster … “What will she think of me?!” … but casting secret ballots that will help decide the fate of the nation.
The March poll provides support for my thesis. It asked twice about forcing health insurance plans to provide free birth control, once for just anybody and then again for groups that have moral or religious objections to birth control. Where the question was purely secular, opposition to mandatory free birth control was 51%. But when they mentioned religious or moral objections in the question, opposition increased by 6 points. And notice in the June poll that the HHS mandate issue ALONE has resulted in a 13% to 16% shift toward opposition to Obama!
I think the lesson for us is clear.
When we’re talking with those critical Undecideds who will swing this close race for or against us, we should couch the discussions in terms of CORE values.
“It’s not about birth control. It’s about keeping the government from forcing people to violate their religious beliefs.”
“This is not about race. We elected a black man to our highest office. We’ve proven we aren’t a racist nation anymore. Now we need to ask if he has fixed the economy and gotten people back to work like he said he would.”
One final point … I’m interested in how well our messaging is getting past the alphabet media blockade, so I snooped through the data to see if I could see any signs that there’s been a shift in opinion over the five months these polls tracked. I think there has been and it’s to our side.
Three polls asked variations on the generic question: Should health insurance plans be required to provide free birth control? The February poll showed 43% of Likely Voters opposed, but the March and May polls both showed 51% of Adult Americans opposed. Since Likely Voters generally poll more Center-Right than Adult Americans, the actual shift toward support for religious freedom may have been even higher than 8%. And it’s held up against the Left’s onslaughts.
Thank God for the First Amendment, talk radio, the internet and our church pulpits!
A Survey of recent opinion polls re: The HHS Mandate
February 2012 (Likely Voters)
Should health insurance companies be required by law to provide free …
… Contraception: 43% No.
… Morning after pills: 50% No.
March 2012 (Adult Americans)
Should health insurance plans for all employees have to cover the full cost of birth control for female employees or should employers be able to opt out for moral or religious reasons?
Plans offered by secular institutions: 40% Must cover vs. 51% Opt out vs. 9% Meh.
Plans offered by religious institutions: 36% Must cover vs. 57% Opt out vs. 7% Meh.
CtH: The second “Opt out” is 6% higher and the Meh is 2% lower. Another sign that we have a special place in our hearts for protecting religious freedom.
May 2012 (Adult Americans)
Should freedom of religion be protected, even if it conflicts with other laws?
Adults: 74% Yes vs. 26% No vs. 0% Meh.
Is it morally wrong to force health care workers and doctors to provide abortion when they object for religious reasons?
Adults: 72% Yes vs. 27% No vs. 1% Meh.
Should individual health care providers and organizations providing health insurance policies be allowed to opt out of providing …
… Abortion: 58% Yes vs. 38% No vs. 4% Meh
… Birth control pills: 51% Yes vs. 46% No vs. 3% Meh
… Abortion-inducing drugs: 51% Yes vs. 44% No vs. 5% Meh
… Medication to speed the death of a terminally ill patient: 55% Yes vs. 41% No vs. 4% Meh
… In vitro fertilization treatments that could result in the death of an embryo: 52% Yes vs. 41% No vs. 7% Meh
Do you believe …
… Contraception is morally acceptable? 88% Yes.
… Abortion is wrong in an of itself? 58% Yes.
June 2012 (Registered Voters)
Is providing free birth control worthy of federal concern?
Catholics: 57% No vs. 37% Yes.
Women: 44% No vs. 51% Yes.
Does the federal government have the right to force morally objectionable coverage on religious institutions?
Women: 57% No.
Should birth control be treated like any other drug, without mandatory coverage?
Catholics: 67% Yes. Women 63% Yes.
Will the HHS mandate make you less likely to vote for Obama, more likely to vote for Obama, or have no impact on your vote?
Religiously active white females: 38% Less Likely vs. 12% More Likely. (38 – 12 = 16 away from Obama)
Catholics: 29% Less Likely vs. 13% More Likely. (29 – 13 = 16 away from Obama)
Independents: 28% Less Likely vs. 15% More Likely. (28 – 15 = 13 away from Obama)
February poll of Likely Voters by Rasmussen reported @
March poll of Adult Americans by New York Times/CBS News reported @
May poll of Adult Americans by Marist College commissioned by the Knights of Columbus reported @
June poll of Registered Voters by QEV Analytics commissioned by The Catholic Association reported @