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Deckman’s Research: Health-Care Mandate Trumped Abortion in 2012 Election
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Research by Washington College political science professor Melissa Deckman and Towson University’s John McTague has shown that, when assessing voter attitudes in the 2012 presidential election, mandated birth-control coverage trumped abortion as the issue more likely to influence a vote. “Voters’ attitudes about abortion had no direct influence on whether they voted for Romney or Obama — a finding that is not too surprising given that most political science research shows abortion attitudes are not usually directly linked to voting behavior,” Deckman and McTague wrote of their findings in a blog post for the London School of Economics. “Voters tended to group abortion attitudes along with attitudes about same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana—all issues that have dominated the culture war debate and tap into voters’ views of personal morality.”
In contrast, the data clearly show that attitudes about the birth-control mandate were related to vote choice in 2012, says Deckman, who is an Affiliated Scholar with the DC-based Public Religion Research Institute. “Despite efforts by women’s groups and Democratic leaders to portray GOP opposition to the birth control mandate as part of a broader ‘war on women,’” she adds, “voters were less likely to view it as an issue of women’s personal sexual behavior, and instead viewed it as part of the broader ideological debate over the role and scope of government and personal attitudes about health care and social welfare.”
Deckman and McTague first published their research in the journal American Politics Research under the headline “Did the War on Women Work? Women, Men and the Birth Control Mandate in the 2012 Presidential Election,” and then summarized it for the LSE’s blog on American politics, economics and culture, LSEUSAblog.