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ND ReSource: Pro-life Democrats are gaining, but still in minority

Author: Arts and Letters


Several high-profile races in the upcoming mid-term elections feature pro-life Democrats who are mounting more than respectable challenges to Republican incumbents.

In the Pennsylvania senatorial race, Democrat Bob Casey is leading by double digits over the Republican incumbent, Rick Santorum. Another pro-life Democrat, Col. Mike Weaver, is giving Rep. Ron Lewis of Kentucky a battle. And, in north-central Indiana, Democrat Joe Donnelly is neck-and-neck with Rep. Chris Chocola.

It may appear that a pro-life strategy is taking hold among Democrats. But University of Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell says not so fast.

“I would hesitate to call the rise of the pro-life Democrat a trend, especially since Casey’s situation is quite unusual, and it is hard to generalize from the other examples,” Campbell said. “Casey’s name recognition (his father, the late Robert Casey, was a popular governor) is almost as high as a Kennedy in Massachusetts, while the other examples are drops in a large bucket.”

Campbell added: “While this is not widely reported, Democratic party activists are far more pro-choice than Republican activists are pro-life, which suggests that the prospects for a pro-life Democratic candidate at, say, the presidential level are slim.”

That said, however, Campbell pointed out that leading Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hilary Clinton has been “talking about the need for Democrats to take a more moderate position – looking for ways to reduce the need for abortion.”

Contact: David Campbell’s comments may be used in whole or in part, and he can be reached for further election analysis at 574-631-7809 or

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on October 24, 2006.