Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Barack Obama: The First Gay President (Uh...Oops?)

Newsweek was the first (but not the last) to proclaim it:

This was, of course, in response to Obama's new (evolved) position on gay marriage a few days ago:

"In an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an 'evolution' that led him to this place, based on conversations with his own staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and conversations with his wife and own daughters."

This is being called an 'evolution' because that's a much nicer way to say 'flip-flop'.  After all, his past position has been solidly opposite of this.  Nevertheless, this 'evolution' is being lauded as a sophisticated, thoughtful, and meaningful change on a key issue (and, by the way, you're supposed to ignore the fact that Mitt Romney took all kinds of heat for mentioning that he valued his wife's opinion on what it's like for stay-at-home moms - it's perfectly legitimate for The One to value his family's opinions on gay marriage).  Interestingly, if you look at what he actually said, he really didn't commit to anything new, though you'd never know it from the giddy tittering of the liberal media complex.  He merely said this:

"...I think same sex couples should be able to get married..."

No commitment for a new policy, no call for new legislation, no promise of even an executive order that he can sign himself any time he wants to.  Nope, it was just a purely political ploy, as most Americans easily figured out.

Of course, this new position presents a bit of a problem for Obama for a couple of reasons.  First, think about his most loyal support base...African-Americans.  Most African-Americans are pretty religious, and thus...against gay marriage.  Was it a coincidence that the interviewer, Robin Roberts, is an African-American woman, and thus helped soften the blow?  I'm sure it probably was...

Anyway, they knew this would cause problems, so shortly after the interview aired Obama hopped on the phone to beg some prominent African-American church leaders to continue supporting him.  Some undoubtedly will, but some are already off the bandwagon.  Several months ago the Obama administration more or less admitted that they're not going to even try for the white working class vote, so one would assume they're relying even that much more on the black vote, so this has got to be a major concern to them.  Another concern: most Americans just don't think gay marriage is that important right now.  In fact, only 7% think that it's a 'top issue' in the upcoming election.  It's hard to get too worked up one way or another about gay marriage when you don't have a job and can't afford to feed your children, you know?

Regardless, the liberal media complex instantly leaped into action to prove that Obama's newly 'evolved' position was the correct one, spewing out contrived poll after contrived poll to support it.  For example:

When asked whether they approve of O's new stance on SSM, 51 percent say yes versus just 45 percent who say no. (Among independents, it's 53/44.) Good news for O, right? Not quite:

Interesting how a poll showing 51% approval for the position also shows that 13% of adults to be less likely to vote for him, don't you think?

So why did he do this?  Well, one reasonable explanation is that a very high percentage of Obama's bundlers -- the fundraisers who bring in millions of dollars for a candidate -- are openly gay or lesbian, with some estimates as high as 1 in 5.  Given the disturbing lack of donations pouring in to Obama's and the DNC's coffers lately -- despite Obama holding more fundraisers than the previous 5 Presidents combined -- this could help connect some dots, don't you think?

When you break it all down, we must keep this issue in perspective:

If national polls show support for gay marriage, why does it keep losing in state votes?

That's the question of the week after Gallup's national poll two days ago showing 50 percent support for SSM was abruptly followed by North Carolinians voting overwhelmingly to ban the practice. That makes 42 states that now define marriage as between a man and a woman. How do we get from that national point A to the state level's point B? Can't be that Gallup is wildly off; Pew got similar numbers when they polled this issue too.

Ross Douthat speculates:

In a 2010 paper, for instance, the New York University political scientist Patrick J. Egan compared polling in advance of state same-sex marriage referendums to the actual results, and found that

"the share of voters in pre-election surveys saying that they will vote to ban same-sex marriage is typically seven percentage points lower than the actual vote on election day."

That seven-point gap between appearances and reality may help explain why same-sex marriage supporters lost referendums they expected to win in liberal states like Maine and California. And it explains why a savvy White House might take polls suggesting that the issue is a political winner with a very large helping of salt.

I think the biggest takeaway here is that little number: 42.  As in, 42 states have explicitly voted -- the people, not the judges or politicians -- to uphold marriage between a man and a woman in some way, whether to clearly define it or ban same-sex marriage altogether.  In fact, not a single voter effort has ended in favor of same-sex marriage, not even in liberal states.  The only reason same-sex marriage is 'legal' anywhere is because individual federal judges sometimes overrule the will of the people, essentially writing legislation from the judicial bench.  This just isn't an issue that is important (compared to issues like the economy and national defense) to Americans at the moment, nor is it something that most Americans are willing to embrace anyway.

But, as usual, Barack Obama is positioning himself in opposition to the American people.

The question is whether or not it will harm him in the upcoming election, and if so by how much.  Let's look at North Carolina for a possible signpost:

Eight days ago, North Carolina voters added the previously existing statutory language defining marriage as between one man and one woman to their state constitution.  The very next day, Barack Obama -- who won North Carolina by 0.3% in 2008 -- endorsed the legalization of same-sex marriage.  A new Rasmussen poll shows the predictable consequences, which will likely end North Carolina's status as a battleground state this cycle:

Mitt Romney has moved out to an eight-point lead over President Obama in North Carolina after the two men were virtually tied a month ago.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Tar Heel State shows the putative Republican nominee earning 51% of the vote to Obama's 43%. Two percent (2%) like some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

That's a big change from last month when Romney posted a narrow 46% to 44% lead over the president in Rasmussen Reports' first survey of the race in North Carolina.  Democrats have signaled North Carolina's importance as a key swing state by deciding to hold their national convention in Charlotte this summer.

In North Carolina, Romney is ahead of Obama on both the economy and favorability, and with men, women, and senior demographic groups.  In fact, the only real lead Obama still has is with young voters, which are historically unreliable at the voting booth.  Whether or not this will play out similarly on a national scale is, of course, subject to change, and six months is a virtual lifetime in politics...but the White House has got to be near-panic with all of this.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, maintains his consistently-held position against gay marriage, and is trying to bring the conversation back to real issues facing Americans today.

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