A new poll finds that more Americans agree with President Barack Obama’s position on same sex marriage than disagree with him — although this still doesn’t mean Team Obama doesn’t face a new complication, since the controversy could change assumptions about electoral votes from certain states:
More than half of Americans say they approve of President Obama’s stance that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally, but 60% say that his shift in position will have no bearing on how they vote in the November election, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll.
Overall, 51% approve of Obama’s new position on same-sex marriage, compared with 45% who disapprove. Nearly 13% say his shift in position will make them more likely to vote for him, while 26% say it will make them less likely, suggesting that more supporters of likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney feel more strongly about this issue than do base supporters of Obama.
That’s not surprising.
Since Obama announced on Wednesday his shift on the issue in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, his campaign has highlighted his position on gay rights while charging that Romney would further restrict rights for same-sex couples. Though Obama endorsed gay marriage, he told Roberts that the issue should be a matter for each state to decide on individually.
In remarks at a campaign fundraiser at the home of actor George Clooney on Thursday night, Obama described his shift in position — he previously supported civil unions but opposed gay marriage — as a “logical extension of what America is supposed to be.”
“It grew directly out of this difference in visions,” Obama said of his shift in position. “Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly, and is that going to make us stronger? Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren’t like us? Does that make us stronger? I believe it does. So that’s what’s at stake.”
But Romney & Co aren’t scrambling to make an issue out of this issue, USA Today notes:
Romney and other Republicans have largely stayed away from the issue in recent days, and charged that Obama is trying to shift attention away from the more important issue to American voters: the economy. In the poll, those who approve of the president’s position on gay marriage think the economy is getting better, and 62% of those who disapprove think it is getting worse.
Part of the shift here is generational:
Younger respondents and respondents with a higher level of education are more likely to approve of Obama’s position on the issue. On the flipside —whether Democrat or Republican — voters who say religion is important to them and are regular church attendees are more likely to disapprove of Obama’s position.
The problem for the GOP is it now seems as if they have a lot of work to do with a)younger voters, b)Latinos, c)women d)gay voters and e)moderates and centrists who may not be pleased over the seeming purge of RINOS and more traditional conservatives from the party.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to comment on the findings of the poll. “The president didn’t do this for politics,” LaBolt said. “He did it because it was the right thing to do.”
The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
As I’ve noted here, when a key player in a story does not respond to a journalist’s request for a comment — the nonresponse is a comment.
If the GOP felt this was a politically profitable issue for them, they’d be all over it. Team Obama, meanwhile, has already put out an ad on the issue and Obama has been discussing it — suggesting the Dems either see some benefit or feel it’s worth the risk to keep raising the issue now that Obama has stated his position.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.