NY Times' Headline Hijinks Hide Abortion Danger for Democrats: 'Deal Breaker'?

May 8th, 2020 6:58 PM

Reporter Maggie Astor profiled several young conservatives for her full-page lead National story in Thursday’s New York Times: “For Young Republicans, Abortion Fight Remains a Deal Breaker -- A generation’s conservatives say the policy issue outranks their concerns about Trump and the environment.”

The framing of that headline is so strange. At first glance, one could easily think the “deal breaker” refers to the abortion issue being an electoral problem for the Republican Party, as liberal youth flee to socially liberal Democrats. But the story itself clarified (if evasively) that it's support for the Democratic Party that is suffering among these young Republicans, due to the Democrats' unyielding support for abortion (click “expand”):

Jose Francisco Rodriguez supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Mary-Faith Martinez supports a public health care option. Ethan Lucky supports criminal justice reform. Autumn Crawford wants government action on climate change.

One thing they have in common? They’re all Republicans.

Like millennials, who are now in their mid-20s to 30s, members of Generation Z -- born after 1996 -- tend to lean left. But there are still plenty of young Republicans, and the generational divide that is so apparent between younger and older Democrats is no less present on the other side of the aisle. It’s just less visible.

In interviews with two dozen Republicans ages 18 to 23, almost all of them, while expressing fundamentally conservative views, identified at least one major issue on which they disagreed with the party line. But more often than not, they said one issue kept them committed to the party: abortion.

While polling shows an age gap in opinions on abortion, it is smaller than the gaps on some other issues, and researchers say that for people who oppose abortion, that opposition has become more central to their political choices.

Even as young Republicans often accept the science of climate change and support L.G.B.T. rights, abortion remains a powerful force pulling them toward the Republican Party -- and toward President Trump, whom many of them dislike.


Certainly, many young Republicans said, they would consider crossing the aisle in this election if not for abortion.


The only subject that appears to rival abortion in terms of keeping young Republicans aligned with the party is economic policy: opposition to socialism and, as expressed in interviews before the recent crash, a belief that Mr. Trump has been a good steward of the economy.

Astor's piece was not hostile, but there was an arms-length, uncomprehending tone absent from her public relations-style profile of young Democratic gun-control activists, on a bus tour after the 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland Florida.

Astor didn’t even hint how abortion could be a potential problem for the Democratic Party, no suggestions that the party should back off from its abortion-on-demand stance to win over these young crossover Republicans. On the other hand, The Times has run story after story saying the GOP must become more pro-choice if it wants to survive.