"An Identity-Politics Totem"?

Douthat ponders the abortion divide:

[T]he country still divides pretty cleanly along educational lines, with high school dropouts strongly opposed to abortion-on-demand, college graduates tilting in its favor, and high school graduates somewhere in between. And surprisingly, that divide hasn’t really changed since the 1970s, despite the changes on other issues, and the shifting pattern of religious practice.

This suggests that well, I’m not exactly sure what it suggests, beyond the obvious point that reality can make mincemeat of any pundit’s neat schematic. But it made me think about the way abortion, because it’s so high profile and politicized, may have become much more of an identity-politics totem than, say, issues like divorce and premarital sex, or even personal habits like churchgoing. In other words, it may be that calling yourself pro-choice has become one of the the ways of identifying yourself with the educated class, even if your views on other subjects have shifted, subtly or starkly, in a more traditionalist direction. And likewise, calling yourself pro-life has become one of the ways of identifying as a morally-upright conservative middle American, even if you don’t go to church and don’t really hew to conservative ethics on almost any other front.