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Straw poll of conservative activists reveals pro-life policies to be least important issue

CPAC_Shutterstock_Valerio_Pucci.jpg Former President Trump addresses attendees at CPAC 2020 Credit: Valerio Pucci/Shutterstock

Pro-life leaders responded to a recent straw poll of conservative activists where pro-life policies received the least number of votes for the activists’ most important issues. 

Attendees at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando were allowed to select up to three issues as their top policy priorities for the Washington Times/CPAC straw poll. Options included “election integrity,” “immigration/border wall,” and “second amendment.” 

A mere 16% of conference-goers choose pro-life policies as one of their top three issues, making it the issue that received the least number of votes among attendees. Election integrity, constitutional rights, and immigration were the three top-rated issues of importance, respectively.

 

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The straw poll is conducted at the annual event, and measures attendees’ policy preferences as well as their preferred presidential candidate. CPAC, a project of the American Conservaive Union, describes itself as “the largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world,” and the conference is often billed as representative of the wider conservative movement. 

The American Conservative Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its attendees’ enthusiasm for the pro-life cause. 

Several pro-life leaders cautioned that the pro-life cause may already be a high priority for many Republicans, and thus the poll is not necessarily indicative of future GOP priorities. 

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told CNA in an interview that it’s possible CPAC attendees didn’t prioritize pro-life policies because they believe the Republican Party has already demonstrated its opposition to abortion. 

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“It’s obviously already something the party already fights really hard for,” Day said. 

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told CNA that abortion “was not always the partisan issue it is today and that better reflected the American people who may disagree on politics while embracing the humanity of the preborn.” 

“The rankings at CPAC show that abortion is among the issues animating people's votes, even when it isn't issue number one for everyone as it is for me and the Pro-Life Generation,” Hawkins said. 

“We are educating people on the need to vote pro-life first, and we will continue to work with people wherever they are at, to build a coalition dedicated to ending abortion,” she said. 

In an email to CNA, Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, wrote that election integrity--the highest-rated issue at CPAC in terms of importance--and the pro-life cause are both connected.

“Those who used COVID-19 to expand access to dangerous chemical abortion drugs and try to suspend pro-life laws also used the pandemic as an excuse to weaken state laws that ensure free and fair elections, which severely compromised Americans’ faith in our elections process,” Quigley said. 

Quigley called this year’s CPAC straw poll “a snapshot of a particular moment in time – a time when voters are sincerely concerned about the integrity of our nation’s elections.” 

“We share deeply in this concern,” she continued. “The issues of protecting life and honest, fair elections are inextricably linked, especially for those of us in the pro-life movement who have chosen to engage in politics as the primary means of effecting change. Without this, we lose our ability to use the political system to bring about lifesaving law and policy changes.”

Day added that because pro-life policies are “a winning issue,” both parties would be wise to oppose “abortion extremisim.” 

“It’s very dangerous for Democrats to have abortion funding in the COVID relief bill and giving Republicans this ammunition,” she said. 

A massive COVID relief package under consideration by the Senate this week does not contain pro-life funding protections--thus possibly allowing for increased funding of abortion coverage and abortion providers. House Democrats rejected pro-life amendments to the bill that would have established safeguards against abortion funding.

“Republicans know it’s a winning issue. Abortion extremisim is not helping the Democrats at all,” Day said of pro-life issues.

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A majority of respondents in the CPAC straw poll selected former President Donald Trump as their choice for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination. Trump addressed the conference on Sunday, repeating his claim that he won the 2020 presidential election but without offering any evidence.

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