Popular support for abortion rights has dropped seven points in the past year due in part to the election of a pro-choice Democratic president, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said Thursday.
In the largest shift in sentiment since pollsters began asking about the topic in 1995, support dropped from 54 to 47 percent in one year. Opposition rose from 40 to 44 percent and the percentage of undecided rose from 6 to 9 percent.
"It's pretty unusual," senior Pew researcher Greg Smith said of the change in public attitudes about abortion rights." In 2007 and 2008, supporters of abortion clearly outnumbered opponents by a 14-point margin. Now the margin is 3 percent. Basically, they are evenly divided."
Pew's findings square with a similar Gallup Values and Beliefs survey in May that showed more Americans consider themselves to be pro-life (51 percent) than pro-choice (42 percent).
They also square with a Pew survey released in May showing an even larger drop of 8 percentage points - 54 to 46 percent since August 2008 - of abortion rights advocates. The biggest drops in support were among white mainline Protestants and men. Approval among both groups fell by 10 percent.