***Please note that the following article is solely the opinion of the author and does not speak for or represent Mitt Romney or the Romney campaign.
President Obama’s announcement last week that he “supports gay marriage” helped provide a clear contrast between Obama and Romney and will almost certainly have a major impact on the elections in November.
History has shown that the issue of gay marriage is a powerful vote mover. As Politico reported last week:
For all the signs of increased tolerance and changing mores, there’s one undeniable fact: A full embrace of gay rights has never been a winner in the political arena.
Fifteen years of ballot measures in more than 30 states from coast-to-coast show an issue that has been rejected nearly every time it’s gone before the voters — often by large margins.
As many political observers have noted, Obama’s announcement moves the electoral map more in the favor of Mitt Romney. In particular, Obama’s move helps tilt “6 or 7 key swing states” toward the Romney camp. These states are namely North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio.
In North Carolina voters overwhelmingly supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state just one week ago. In another crucial swing state, Florida, a similar ban was passed in 2008. Ohio, Michigan and Missouri also passed similar bans in 2004. Virginia, Colorado and Wisconsin passed bans in 2006 and Arizona in 2008.
A lot has been said lately about the shifting support for gay marriage over the last decade. Many point to a recent poll saying that a slim majority of Americans now support gay marriage. However, in regard to polls, keep in mind two key facts. #1) During the upcoming election, the swing states matter a lot more than the national average. And the swing states are showing a strong inclination away from same sex marriage. And #2) Aaron Blake of the Washington Post recently released this analysis about polls on gay marriage:
Does a majority of the country really support gay marriage?
As is often true in polling, it depends on how you ask the question.
A Gallup poll last week showed that 51 percent of Americans support gay marriage, but a CBS News/New York Times poll out today shows that only 38 percent support it.
The difference: Gallup gave voters just two options — support or oppose — while the CBS/NYT poll added a third, civil unions.
When given that third choice, polls show that it draws significantly from both the pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage camps, but in the end, overall support for gay marriage drops well below a majority.
Notably, then, the civil unions choice also appears to be drawing some support from gay marriage opponents — a reflection that there is plenty of support (62 percent) for some kind of legal recognition of gay couples.
For Obama, a candidate who has been angling to the political center, his announcement represents a hard turn to the political left. In my humble opinion, I think it is going to be too far left for most people – an overstep where Obama got in “a little over his skis.”
Take for example, the new shirts for sale on Barack Obama’s website. Some of the slogans on the shirts read, ”My two moms support Obama” or “My two dads support Obama.”
These are not center-of-the-road phrases. I don’t think these kinds of phrases would be seen in virtually any election in the US, even predominantly democratic ones.
Another shirt says “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repealed 12/22/10.” I am not sure that is a slogan you want to publicize very broadly since most in the military were opposed to repealing DADT.
While there is little doubt that Obama’s newfound support for gay marriage will energize the LGBT community as never before, it will also energize the even larger group of social and religious conservatives. In the swing states and among America’s silent majority, the results of Obama’s announcement will tip the scales of the election more toward Mitt Romney.
As a side note, I think it is important to remember that even though gay marriage has emerged as a big issue in the upcoming election, Romney still plans to focus primarily on the economy and jobs as his main message to voters.