It is far too early to know whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will win the presidential election, but the latest polls must not be giving Obama much comfort. The New York Times/CBS poll, one heavily skewed to give the Democrats a bigger margin (surprise, surprise), shows Mitt Romney with a 3-point lead over the president. It is within the margin of error, but it nevertheless reveals Romney quickly widening what was a large gap in the president’s favor. Sixty-two percent of the respondents said that the economy and jobs were most important to them in deciding who the candidate of their choice should be. In other words, Romney’s lead is due to the belief of those polled that he would be able to deal with producing jobs and improving the economy better than the president.
For the president’s base, his recent announcement in favor of gay marriage was greeted with an outpouring of gratitude. But when asked by the pollsters whether Obama’s support of same-sex marriage would make them more or less likely to vote for him, 26 percent said less likely and only 16 percent said more likely. A strong 57 percent said it would not influence their choice at all. Moreover, 67 percent of those polled said Obama’s announcement was done for political reasons, while only 24 percent thought he announced it because he thought it was right. To put it another way, Obama may have motivated his base, but in terms of the general election, his position has not helped him at all.
As others have noted, including Karl Rove, the cover of this week’s Newsweek, depicting the president with a halo over his head and the heading “The First Gay President,” may very well backfire by turning off the half of the country that is strongly opposed to gay marriage. Moreover, the article by Andrew Sullivan in praise of the president’s decision can easily be discounted since Sullivan is not only gay himself and a major advocate of gay marriage, but also a fierce cheerleader for the president.
The poll also revealed that Romney now has the edge in women voters, 46 to 44 percent. Remember that just a few weeks ago, when Rick Santorum was making contraception the issue, all the pundits argued that Romney would lose because he could no longer gain the support of women. And one month ago, the same poll showed the president leading among women by 49 to 43 percent. That is an astounding gain in a short time frame.
All of the above explains why the Democrats are trying to make Romney’s personality, rather than the economy or foreign policy, the issue in the campaign. That is why you will continually hear that Romney is a bully, that he put his dog on top of his car during a vacation trip, and that as head of Bain Capital he caused many to lose their jobs and to suffer. Once a bully, always a bully.