Over at Darwin Catholic a commenter asked whether a pro-choice commenter on this weblog also supported the death penalty. I presume that they were here pointing to the consistent life ethic issue. Many liberals who oppose capital punishment support abortion rights, and many conservatives who support capital punishment oppose abortion rights. These camps both have their viewpoints, which I’m not interested in re-litigating in the comments. But I was curious as to the overall societal support for the combinations of positions.
So I looked at the GSS, using the CAPPUN and ABANY variables (capital punishment, and abortion for any reason). In this post I will show you screenshots of the GSS output. It’s ugly, but it shows you deviation away from the expected proportions. Basically, if two variables are independent you can predict what you’d expect to be the crossed percentages over the four cells. If the results deviate from that you can ascertain particular associations. In the GSS output red means that the cell has a higher value than it should, and blue a lower value. Additionally, the intensity signals the magnitude of the deviation. I limited all results to the year 2000 and later.
First, the general aggregate result:
What you see here is a moderate correlation between pro-termination positions (of murders and fetuses), and between anti-termination positions. I decided to break it down by demographic, and that’s where the strangeness jumped out at me (though not in hindsight).
First, non-Hispanic whites.
Now you see a striking reversal of the associations. The political stereotypes hold here; non-Hispanic whites who oppose abortion rights favor the death penalty. Those who favor abortion rights oppose the death penalty.
So let’s separate by ideology.
I was rather surprised by these results, and I don’t have anything succinct to say, so I’ll just leave them.
Now blacks & Hispanics.
As I said, in hindsight these patterns make sense. But interesting to see how they play out in any case….