It’s been one week since President Obama, prodded into action by Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks on a Sunday talk show, granted Robin Roberts of ABC News an interview in which he revealed his personal policy shift on gay marriage. Whether or not Obama’s decision, and the way it was handled politically, will make a difference on election day is still anyone’s guess — and may always be. Parsing reactions by millions of individual voters, particularly on an issue that ranks far below other concerns for most Americans, obviously involves a measure of guesswork.
That said, the first wave of polling is in, and the results aren’t looking particularly good for Obama. Taken together, four different national opinion surveys over the past week, by reputable organizations with good track records, indicate that the president’s stand could well hurt him politically. Unsurprisingly, the numbers are fairly close; but as often gets pointed out, tight elections are decided by small numbers of votes.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Obama comes from a new ABC/Washington Post poll, which found that independent swing voters had a slightly more favorable than unfavorable view of his position (though the results were a statistical tie, given the margin of error for that subgroup). ABC’s analysis, by statistician Damla Ergun of Langer Research Associates, pointed out that independents who reacted most strongly to the decision tilted against it, and that “strong sentiment can better predict voter turnout and vote preferences.”
A Gallup poll found that the overall change in public opinion was a” net minus” for Obama, though the organization cautioned that these results could change, depending on the degree to which same-sex marriage is, or is not, a campaign issue in the fall.
The latest New York Times/CBS poll showed that 26% of voters were less likely to support Obama as a result of his announcement, compared with 16% who said they were more likely to support him. But the small overall sample size and the lack of any valid sub-group data make those numbers fairly useless for purposes of predicting voter behavior. The poll did find, however, that a clear majority of Americans regarded Obama’s declaration of support for same-sex marriage as largely a political move, which doesn’t help him at all.
A fourth poll, by the independent Pew Research Center, found that 25% of Americans felt less favorably toward Obama, while 19% felt more favorably, as a result of his shift. But among independents, there was no measurable change. Nineteen percent regarded him more favorably, 19% less favorably, and 60% said the decision had no effect.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune