Poll shows Illinoisans more moderate than General Assembly on abortion


The Illinois State Capitol rotunda is pictured in Springfield. | Capitol News Illinois file photo

SPRINGFIELD – A new survey released this week suggests Illinoisans are more moderate on the issue of abortion than the current Democratic-controlled General Assembly, but it is unclear whether that will cost Democrats votes in November.

The poll by the Chicago-based firm Ogden & Fry – which is owned by a Republican candidate for Cook County Board – found that 40 percent of those responding describe themselves as “pro-choice with some restrictions,” including limits on late-term abortions, while nearly 25 percent describe themselves as “pro-life with exceptions” for things like rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother.

That puts nearly two-thirds of those surveyed somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with only 21.5 percent describing themselves as 100-percent “pro-choice” and 14 percent identifying as 100-percent “pro-life.”

Perhaps more importantly, 78 percent of those surveyed said they believe parents should be notified before their minor child receives an abortion, including 35 percent who supported a judicial bypass in situations where parental notification is not possible or not in the child’s best interest.

Even among self-identified Democrats, 61.6 percent said they support some level of parental notification requirement.

That’s important because the General Assembly passed a bill last year, which Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law, repealing the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion law. That repeal took effect June 1.

The survey of 956 adults, 95 percent of whom said they were likely or very likely to vote in 2022, comes with all the usual polling caveats.

First, assuming the respondents were selected completely at random, the sample size would give the poll a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.

Second, the owner of Ogden & Fry, and the person who did the polling, is Matt Podgorski, who is also a Republican candidate for the Cook County Board. Podgorski’s firm did not receive a commission to conduct the poll.

Retiring state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, who is supporting Podgorski’s campaign, said in a phone interview that he suggested doing the poll and thought it would be good publicity for the firm.

The polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight gives the firm a grade of “B/C,” based on its track record in the 2014 gubernatorial race, when it accurately predicted Republican Bruce Rauner’s margin of victory within a single percentage point, and the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Illinois, when it overestimated Joe Biden’s margin of victory by 8.3 percentage points.

A final caveat comes from a political science professor that I used to quote regularly, Patrick Miller: “It’s one poll.” It usually takes multiple polls over an extended period of time before a clear picture begins to emerge.

That being said, the Ogden & Fry poll had some other interesting findings. For example, it showed President Biden with a 48.6 percent approval rating in Illinois – well above his national averages, but not necessarily surprising in a blue state like Illinois.

And Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker came in with a 49.4 percent approval rating, including 90 percent among self-identified Democrats; 4.6 percent among Republicans and 35.5 percent among independents.

It also found that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, 65.5 percent, said a candidate’s position on abortion was either “extremely” or “very” important in their voting decision. That number shoots up to nearly 78 percent among Democrats, many of whom may be motivated by the leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court decision suggesting the court may be poised to overturn its landmark 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.

Meanwhile, 52 percent overall, including 22.8 percent of Democrats, said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports unrestricted abortion while only 27.5 percent overall, and nearly half of Democrats surveyed, said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports unrestricted abortion access.

That last statistic, however, requires some context, because in every case, the decision is also affected by who the alternative is. Voters can, and sometimes do, vote for someone who is further to the right or left of them on a particular issue if the alternative is someone they consider utterly unacceptable.

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