Fascinating numbers which I think bear out one of my points in this post last night about why the states keep banning gay marriage when national polls show a majority in favor. 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:
How can he have lost a net 13 points overall and a net 12 among indies in this metric when a majority say they support his position? Simple: There’s an enthusiasm disparity between the two sides. The side that supports gay marriage is, I think, a coalition of two groups — the passionate gay-rights supporters who see it as an issue of equality and civil rights and then a whole swath of people who take a MYOB “I don’t care what gays do” approach to the matter. The latter group may prefer O’s new stance but they’re not animated by this subject; they view SSM the way they do because of a basic libertarian live-and-let-live impulse, not some feeling that it’s a grand cause. Opponents of gay marriage are more focused, I suspect: Whether religious or not, they think this is uncharted territory for society and worry about unintended consequences from mainstreaming “alternative lifestyles.” If you believe that it could have significant consequences for the culture, then it stands to reason that your interest in this subject will be more than casual. So when O comes out in favor of SSM, three things happen: The ardent gay-rights supporters cheer and find themselves more likely to vote for him, the gay-marriage supporters boo and find themselves less likely, and the libertarian supporters shrug and say it makes no difference. That’s how you get those imbalanced numbers.
For your viewing pleasure, via CNS, here’s Pelosi explaining how her Catholic faith “compels” her to support gay marriage. Forgive the resident atheist a possibly stupid question, but isn’t it the Pope and bishops who decide for the faithful what their faith compels them to believe? They seem … pretty clear on this subject.
Update: One further note on the Gallup poll. Although the independent numbers are worrisome for O, the 13-point tilt overall towards those who say they’re now less likely to vote for him is being driven mostly by the overwhelming GOP response. Which is to say, just because people insist they’re now less likely to vote for him, that doesn’t mean they were on the fence in the first place. Per the Republican numbers, most of them weren’t. It’s the independents who are.