The poll’s main result is important: Mitt Romney has opened up a three-point lead among registered voters. The poll found that the Obama campaign’s distraction of the week tactic hasn’t worked. It’s still the economy, and pace the Washington Post and its useless ombudsman, we’re not stupid.
Sixty-two percent of registered voters cited the economy as the most important issue in the presidential election. Concern over the budget deficit ranked a distant second at 11 percent, followed by health care at 9 percent. Seven percent picked same-sex marriage, 4 percent cited foreign policy and 2 percent chose immigration.
Drilling down, one in four say they are less likely to support Obama after announcing his fair-weather federalism on gay marriage. One in four=25%=a big deal. Most people are not going to cast their presidential vote on that issue, but of those who will, Obama has weakened himself.
Among Democrats, twelve percent say Mr. Obama’s position makes them less likely to back him, while 29 percent say they are now more likely to do so. And 22 percent of independents say they are now less likely to vote for the president, while 14 percent say they are more likely to vote for him.
Twenty-three percent of registered voters, including 11 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of independents, say presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s opposition to same-sex marriage makes them more likely to vote for him. Seventeen percent say it makes them less likely to support him, a figure that includes 20 percent of independents but just two percent of Republicans.
And drilling further down, Mitt Romney has closed the so-called “gender gap.”
CBS buried this finding, but it is huge. The Obama campaign has accused the Republicans of waging a “war on women” since announcing the ObamaCare abortifacient mandate in January. Not only has that gambit not worked for the Democrats, it may have backfired. I say “may have” because the result is within the poll’s four point margin of error. But it’s also of registered voters, and such polls tend to lean slightly to the left. In this poll, Democrats outnumber 34% to 25%, a nine point advantage that does not exist in nature.
Probably most alarming for the president: Hardly anyone thinks he announced support for gay marriage because he thought it was the right thing to do.
A heavy majority regards the decision as political — cynical. So much for hope and change and a new kind of politics.
Update: The New York Times, strangely enough, doesn’t bury the lead. It buries the reversal on the gender gap, but doesn’t bury the cynicism seen in Obama’s gay marriage announcement.
Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed by The New York Times and CBS News since the announcement said they thought that Mr. Obama had made it “mostly for political reasons,” while 24 percent said it was “mostly because he thinks it is right.” Independents were more likely to attribute it to politics, with nearly half of Democrats agreeing.
The results reinforce the concerns of White House aides and Democratic strategists who worried that the sequence of events leading up to the announcement last week made it look calculated rather than principled.
The best news in the poll may be the hint that the Obama campaign can’t assume that it will own the narratives this time around. They have tried trick after trick to knock the economy off its perch as the top issue, and each trick has failed. Now Obama is exposed as a hack politician like every other hack politician. Most Republicans always saw him as such, but now a whopping majority does too.