May 10, 2012
Obama Lets a PR Cat Out Of the Bag — Quantifying the Political Fallout: What Does Obama Gain — and Lose — By Speaking Out In Favor of Same-Sex Marriage? It Could Ignite Support Of Young Voters, But Turn Away Centrists
President Barack Obama this week became the first sitting president ever to speak out in support of same-sex marriage — and that embrace is a political gamble that seeks to fire up young and liberal voters at the possible expense of alienating undecided voters in swing states such as North Carolina and Florida, an AP news release reports. Polls show the country is evenly divided on the issue. Some advisers, pointing to rapidly changing public views of gay rights, say Obama has more to gain than lose by the move. Strong opponents of same-sex marriage were unlikely to support him anyway, they say, and young voters who flocked to his barrier-breaking 2008 campaign are hungry for new reasons to get excited about his re-election bid. These advisers note that many liberals are angry about some of the president's environmental stances and deeply disappointed by setbacks to his health care initiative. These voters and potential campaign volunteers need a new cause championed by a courageous, forward-moving leader, the thinking goes. But there are potential downsides. Obama's decision on same-sex marriage might inspire social conservatives to give more money and campaign time to Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama narrowly won North Carolina, where voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage. "Obama's decision will hurt him in Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, rural Pennsylvania, northern Florida, rural Missouri — lots of places that he needs," said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, reports the news release by AP writer Charles Babington. Mackowiak said he thinks Obama chiefly made the move to gain more campaign donations from liberal activists.
Romney, meanwhile, says he believes marriage should be restricted to one man and one woman and that he's held that view "since running for office." Romney on Wednesday called same sex-marriage "a very tender and sensitive topic" as he contrasted his position with Obama's unequivocal declaration of support Wednesday for allowing same-sex couples to marry, reports a companion AP release by Sean Murphy. Romney did not go so far as to accuse Obama of changing his position on the issue. Questioned by reporters, the presumptive Republican nominee for president said news reports indicate Obama has shifted his stance. Romney says states should be able to decide whether to grant certain legal benefits to same-sex couples.