NEW YORK – Even though few Americans say abortion will be the most important issue for them in the upcoming election, nearly half say they need to know a candidate’s position on abortion before deciding their vote for president.
A FOX News poll released Friday shows that 45 percent of Americans need to know a candidate’s position on abortion before they vote, while 53 percent say it is not something they need to know.
It’s more important to pro-life voters than for any other group. A 56 percent majority of those identifying themselves as pro-life say they need to know where a candidate stands on abortion, while 41 percent of pro-choice voters, 48 percent of women, 46 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of born-again Christians, need to know.
"It is interesting to note that even among pro-life voters only slightly more than half need to know," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "While many of them may assume that they already know or that the Republicans will only nominate an acceptable candidate, it is still notable that the issue doesn’t seem to draw as much attention as many think it does."
All in all, 5 percent of voters say abortion will be the most important issue in their vote decision, putting it on equal footing with immigration (5 percent) and ethics (5 percent), but far below the top issues of Iraq (22 percent), terrorism (18 percent), economy/jobs (17 percent) and health care (13 percent).
The national telephone poll was conducted for FOX News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from Oct. 23 to Oct. 24. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
The poll was taken in conjunction with a FOX News documentary that was to premier Saturday, Oct. 27, at 9 p.m. ET. The documentary, "Facing Reality: Choice," follows three women who are trying to decide what to do about their problem or unwanted pregnancies.
In the documentary, hosted by E.D. Hill, two of the pregnant women are unmarried. The third woman and her husband learn the child she is carrying has a fatal birth defect and cannot live outside the womb. They must decide whether to abort the pregnancy.
The poll finds that 53 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal if the baby has a fatal birth defect, including 26 percent of those identified as pro-life, and 30 percent think it should be illegal.
The highest number — 73 percent — say abortion should be legal if the pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk, and a sizable 70 percent majority thinks it should be allowed in the case of rape or incest. A smaller 56 percent majority of Americans says the procedure should be legal when the mother's mental health is at stake.
About 4 in 10 (39 percent) think that abortion should be legal if the pregnancy is simply unwanted, while half (50 percent) say it should be illegal.
Overall, 48 percent of Americans say on the issue of abortion they are pro-choice and 37 percent say pro-life.
Democrats (62 percent) and independents (52 percent) identified themselves as pro-choice, while Republicans (56 percent) identified themselves as pro-life. Slightly more women (52 percent) than men (44 percent) say they are pro-choice.
"Interesting, these partisan differences are relatively small in these partisan times," Gorman said. "Compared to the party split on Bush’s job rating, they are practically non-existent."