Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, dismisses the idea that black voters will turn to Romney and doubts that Catholics who don’t regularly attend mass will be swayed. He does, however, see a chance for Romney to perhaps knock Obama’s lead among Hispanics down by a few points. Hispanics, he observes, have been a group unusually loyal to Obama. “It’s the one portion of the electorate that Obama is doing better with than he did four years ago,” Sabato remarks, speculating that Romney’s views on immigration have won him few friends among Hispanic voters. But if the Romney campaign emphasizes Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, “this could be a way to bring some of them back.” For Romney, picking up even a small percentage of minority voters — or benefiting from minority voters’ being too discouraged by Obama’s positions to bother voting for him — would be a valuable help in what looks likely to be a close race.

The issue is also giving him a crucial boost among social conservatives, energizing them not just to vote for Romney, but also to consider donating to and volunteering for his campaign. As Family Research Council president Tony Perkins observed on Face the Nation on Sunday, Obama’s pro-same-sex-marriage position could unleash “that missing piece of intensity that Mitt Romney is going to need.”