A veteran Democrat pollster suggested that Democrats may be more malleable in some districts concerning abortion. Margie Omero of PSB Research was interviewed by Scott Simon of NPR. Simon asked for Omero’s reaction to criticism leveled by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan -- the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- who complained that his party should cease withholding campaign funds from candidates who are not 100 percent pro-abortion. Simon said that Lujan’s argument is that Democrats have to be competitive in order to win in conservative swing districts.
Omero responded that support for abortion is a “strong Democratic principle.” She claimed that a majority of Americans feel that abortion should be legal in most cases. “Overall, a majority of Americans feel abortion should be legal in most cases. Democrats feel more strongly about their pro-choice views than Republicans feel about their pro-life views. So I think looking at the candidates that would be the fit in…”
Simon cut in, and said, “I was looking for a yes or no.”
Laughing, Omero said that while there a variety of candidates and positions around the country, she added, “I think that, you know, people may have, you know, we need to be looking at energizing Democrats. And Democrats are far more energized than Republicans currently. You have almost 20,000 women - pro-choice Democratic women - looking to run for office. The surge in enthusiasm is coming from the left. And it's coming from women. And it's coming from progressives. And it's coming from people who are pro-choice.”
Simon pressed on: “I still I don't think I got an answer. Does the polling bear out Chairman Lujan's perception that this would be a wise way to win some of those seats in swing districts?”
Omero answered by saying that there are districts where the most viable Democrat candidates will be more conservative than other districts.” In those districts, the more viable candidates will be pro-life, she said. “I'm not sure how many examples that we'll have of that specific combination in practice. I think, you know - and that the single distinguishing characteristic would be abortion, as opposed to views on climate change or, you know, other kinds of ties to the district and so on.”
No change on abortion
Acknowledging that other issues besides abortion will be considered by Democrats, Omero said, “I think that voters are going to be looking for a lot beyond abortion positions. They're going to be looking at economic views. They're going to be looking at candidates that they feel represent them and that they can connect to. And I think what the chairman was saying is, you know, we're going to be looking at everything that a candidate brings to the table, rather than looking actively for pro-life candidates. He certainly wasn't saying that.”
When Simon quoted a Pew Research Center poll from July that shows that 75 percent of Democrats believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. “Would Democratic candidates who don't share that idea on principle, on moral grounds or for political reasons, would they risk alienating the base of Democratic voters?” he asked.
Omero admitted that Democrats will continue enforcing the pro-abortion position. She said, “It's possible. I mean, you know, these races are all different. There's not one road map for the whole country, but it is possible given how enthusiastic Democrats are currently, how much of that enthusiasm is coming from women and from how much, you know, more Democratic women are paying attention to the news...than other groups and paying attention to politics. So it's certainly possible.”
As to whether the Democrats may seek to change, Omero said that it is important for the party to “have some reflection after a loss, which is what Democrats are doing.” But she added that she expects little change on the part of Democrats about the economy, or abortion. “ I don't really see that Democrats are having a wholesale change. It's really just finding what the best tactics are and the best candidates who drive our message forward.”