Gay marriage issue: Who does it hurt most, Obama or Romney?
Gay marriage is not a campaign subject either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney really needed, and it could present difficulties for both candidates as the election nears.
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Like President Obama, Americans are “evolving” in the direction of greater tolerance. But the number is actually down slightly from last year – 50 percent today compared with 53 percent a year ago, according to Gallup. And in several important swing states that Obama won by slim margins in 2008, strong majorities have voted to ban same-sex marriages in state referendums. (North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio come to mind.)
Since older, more conservative voters are more likely to show up at the polls on Election Day, Obama will need to reenergize the younger voters who propelled him to victory last time.
The latest poll on the subject may be better news for Mr. Romney than it is for Obama.
But while 13 percent say Obama’s shift will make them more likely to vote for him, twice as many – 26 percent – say it will make them less likely to give him their vote. Perhaps more significant in a very close race, those “less likely” voters include 10 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Independents.
Still, same-sex marriage may be an even trickier issue for Romney to navigate.
Given the trend in public attitudes, it’s relatively easy to paint him “on the wrong side of history” for his opposition to gay marriage, especially among younger voters (ages 18 to 34), 70 percent of whom approve. Women, too, are more likely to be comfortable with gay marriage than men – a portion of the electorate Republicans need to attract in greater numbers.
Romney’s religion – he’s a Mormon – may not help among undecided and even some otherwise-conservative voters. It’s a subject he’d rather not have to address.