UW Survey: Wyoming Voters Split on Abortion Issue

December 6, 2012

Wyoming voters are divided on the abortion issue, although the stark differences found in party platforms are not reflected in the general electorate, according to the University of Wyoming’s election year survey.

The abortion issue has been a matter of intense national political debate since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled many state anti-abortion laws in 1973, says Oliver Walter, dean of UW’s College or Arts and Sciences and the survey’s co-founder.

“For the most part, the Republican Party has adopted platforms that have increasingly been opposed to abortion, while the Democrats have generally supported the Supreme Court ruling,” he says. 

In Wyoming, only 8 percent of voters indicated that they favored a law making abortion illegal under all conditions.

“Even among those who identify with the Republican Party, only 12 percent favored this position,” Walter says. “Thirty-nine percent favored allowing abortion in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother, a position that parallels that of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.”

On the other hand, Walter says 13 percent of the state sample indicated a more ambiguous response, namely, that abortion might be permitted if a “need could be established.” Finally, 38 percent of the sample said abortion should be a matter of personal choice.

“In sum, Wyomingites are rather evenly split on the abortion issue,” he says. “This split is found among both Republicans and Democrats. For instance, 27 percent of Republicans indicated that they thought abortion should be a matter of personal choice, while 19 percent of Democrats said abortion should be permitted only in the case of rape or incest.”

The statewide telephone survey of 668 Wyoming citizens was conducted in October by UW’s Wyoming Survey Analysis Center. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Biennial surveys of Wyoming residents have been conducted by the UW Department of Political Science since 1972.

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