In 2014, the Texas Gubernatorial Project conducted a voter study: how could analysts determine why voters vote the way they do? Many studies predict how voters will vote, but the why is often more elusive. The Texas Gubernatorial Project set out to find an answer.
The 2014 Texas governor race provided the perfect opportunity, with pro-life Greg Abbott and pro-abortion Wendy Davis as the main contenders.
The Christian Post reports:
There was heightened interest in abortion during that election because Davis became a nationwide celebrity-du-jour among liberals after she filibustered a 20-week abortion ban in the Texas Senate. Republican Greg Abbott won that election by 20.4 percentage points.
Adam B. Schaeffer, Ph.D., director of research and co-founder of Evolving Strategies, a data and analytics firm that conducted the study for the Texas Gubernatorial Project, explains the study’s shocking results.
Does pro-life messaging work as a wedge issue? To find out, we conducted a randomized-controlled experiment testing three different pro-life radio ads attacking Davis.
I want to belabor this point — we didn’t ask voters what they thought of the ads, which is what standard message testing does. People are terrible at introspection and self-prediction. Rather, we observed how the ad influenced their likelihood of supporting Abbott or Davis compared to the placebo-control group. We ran a randomized-controlled experiment, just like a blind clinical drug trial.
We found something remarkable. The best targets for pro-life messaging were Democratic-leaning women, young voters and Hispanic voters. Exposure to just one pro-life video ad shifted Democratic-leaning women by 10 points away from Davis and toward Abbott.
Moreover, voters aged 18 to 34 shifted about 8 points, and Hispanic voters shifted about 13 net points from Davis to Abbott. Those were staggering results for these demographic groups on this issue. Of course, it wasn’t all positive: these same ads caused a backlash among white men.
For those who might dismiss this study as a “Texas-only” experiment, Schaeffer reports that additional studies have been done elsewhere in the nation:
Using abortion as a wedge issue worked spectacularly—and counterintuitively—well with some voters, a finding that confirmed by similar experiments in the lab and field which we’ve conducted in five states, and nationally across a range of elections.
For years, reports and on-the-ground experience have been showing that Millennials, women, and Hispanics are becoming strongly pro-life. Last year, Newsweek reported the striking thoughts of former NARAL President, Nancy Keenan:
And what worries Keenan is that she just doesn’t see a passion among the post-Roe generation—at least, not among those on her side. This past January, when Keenan’s train pulled into Washington’s Union Station, a few blocks from the Capitol, she was greeted by a swarm of anti-abortion-rights activists. It was the 37th annual March for Life, organized every year on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe. “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” Keenan recalled. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.”
Hispanic leaders – even while agreeing with some policies most commonly touted by Democrats – often advocate for a strong pro-life standard among their people – something Republicans nearly always stand for. And according to the Texas Gubernatorial Project’s study, the pro-life issue may be strong enough to bring more and more Hispanics over to the side of the GOP, as their leaders continue to view the issue as the civil rights cause of our day.
Despite Planned Parenthood’s consistent and deceptive messaging that “women trust us,” women actually do know better. Story after story tells how Planned Parenthood fails women who want to keep their children and who seek out true healthcare. Facts demonstrate that Planned Parenthood is not the savior of women they proclaim themselves to be. Federally qualified health centers, community health centers, and crisis pregnancy centers stand ready and willing to serve over ten times the number of people (they already serve over 27 million a year vs. Planned Parenthood’s claimed 2.7 million) that Planned Parenthood serves every day – without performing abortions.
The Texas Gubernatorial Project’s study furthers the idea that women, when faced with a factual pro-life message, will choose life and compassion. Apparently, this is causing them to flock to Republicans.
As Napp Nazworth of the Christian Post writes:
Liberal media figures often claim that a pro-life message will hurt Republicans with women voters. On Friday, for instance, CNN’s Chris Cuomo harangued Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for his pro-life position, saying, “certainly the opinions of women, are not in step with what you’re saying right now.”
But Schaeffer’s experiment suggests the opposite: it would help the party gain women voters…