A bad night for the pro-life community in Tuesday’s Ohio election brought even worse news in exit polling: A significant percentage of Trump voters and self-identifying evangelicals helped carry the day for the pro-choice cause.
It was a down night nationwide for pro-lifers, with pro-life candidates losing not only the Kentucky governor’s race but also the Virginia House, which saw Democrats flip it to take control of both chambers in that state.
But the biggest loss for the pro-life community involved Ohio, where a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion easily passed 57-43 percent. The amendment, known as Issue 1, places language in the Ohio Constitution that declares every individual has the “right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including” abortion.
Exit polls showed that Trump voters were more than twice as likely to support the amendment as Biden voters were to oppose it. For example, although 81 percent of voters who backed Trump in 2020 opposed the amendment, 18 percent supported it. That’s higher than the 8 percent of Biden voters who voted against the amendment. (A total of 92 percent of Biden voters backed Issue 1, according to exit polling.)
— Jessica Piper (@jsscppr) November 8, 2023
The takeaway: Biden voters are more unified in supporting legal abortion than Trump voters are unified in opposing it.
Meanwhile, one-fourth (24 percent) of white voters who self-identify as born-again or evangelical supported Issue 1, according to the exit polling. The survey did not probe the beliefs or churchgoing habits of those who self-identify as evangelical.
“Among last night’s takeaways: abortion won big in Ohio’s blue areas, of course. But it also won thanks to support from a lot of Trump voters,” Politico’s Jessica Piper wrote.
Daniel Darling, director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the pro-life community must persuade voters on the Right to oppose abortion.
“It’s interesting to me that states like OH and KY, where Trump ran up huge numbers, are giving us these results on the issue of life,” Darling wrote. “I think it shows us that some of Trump’s die-hard base, some who voted for him, also continue to vote in favor of abortion. They are animated by other issues, such as immigration and inflation, parents’ rights, etc.
A few thoughts about the results in both KY and Ohio, specifically related to the pro-life cause.
First, both are disappointing. We should lament that majorities even in red states often don’t see the priority of protecting life in the womb. The end of Roe was just the…
— Daniel Darling (@dandarling) November 8, 2023
“This seems to show a clear distinction between pro-life churchgoing evangelical and Catholic folks and unchurched conservatives who vote for Trump,” Darling added. “These are two distinct groups. While we often think our arguments against the sanctity of life are against the left, we need to make arguments to our right to convince them of the sanctity of the unborn. Lastly, we need to not yield in this fight for the unborn. It is a just one. But we also must make arguments designed to persuade.”
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andrew Spear / Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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A Prayer during National Unrest