Abortion attitudes in Oklahoma | Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
abortion attitudes in oklahoma | statistical modeling, causal inference, and

Abortion attitudes in Oklahoma | Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

Palko discussed this the other day:

Oklahoma is moderately pro-choice and yet it basically photocopied the Texas law, complete with bounties.

Just to be clear: surveys find Oklahomans to be less supportive of abortion rights than the average in the U.S., but still more supportive than not. So that’s “moderately pro-choice” compared to a 50/50 baseline. According to this Pew Research summary, 51% in Oklahoma say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 45% say illegal in all or most cases.

Palko pointed a news article with this map:

Missouri and Oklahoma stand out as the only existing states where laws have been passed making abortion illegal, despite more people supporting than opposing legal abortion.

I thought about this when picking up the newspaper today and seeing this:

The bill “passed on a 73-16 vote,” a lopsided margin given public opinion in the state. Now, I’m not saying this 51%-45% margin is perfectly accurate—things depend a bit on how you ask the question, there’s survey nonresponse, etc., but at best for the anti-abortion side you could get something like an even split in opinion.

Here’s a quick adjustment. Trump received 67% of the two-party vote in Oklahoma in 2020 and was polling at about 62% in the state. A quick adjustment would add 5% to the Republican vote share. Abortion attitudes are moderately correlated with partisanship, so adding 5% to the Republican column might correspond to adding 2% to the anti-abortion column, which would take us from 51-45 to 49-47, then you can consider sampling error and do some MRP . . . let’s call it 48-48 in the state.

It does not defy political gravity for a legislature to vote in a way different from public opinion: issues are bundled, there’s political polarization, the whole thing is tangled up with national politics, also there’s some sort of pent-up demand from activists who can push anti-abortion legislation in a way that they could not do for fifty years. So, lots going on.

And abortion’s not the only issue where there’s a lack of congruence (as Lax and Phillips put it) between opinion and state policies. One familiar example is the death penalty, which has been popular in most states for many decades but is rarely carried out anywhere in the country.

Still, that all said . . . a 73-16 vote in the legislature is a striking deviation from a 50-50 split in the population, indicating something about how politics works in this country.

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