The latest New York Times/CBS News poll suggested President Obama's sudden stand on gay marriage was hurting him, and also showed him slightly behind in the expected fall match-up with Mitt Romney, in a story buried on page A17: "New Poll Finds Voters Dubious of Obama’s Announcement on Same-Sex Marriage." Peter Baker and Dalia Sussman reported:
Most Americans suspect that President Obama was motivated by politics, not policy, when he declared his support for same-sex marriage, according to a new poll released on Monday, suggesting that the unplanned way it was announced shaped public attitudes.
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 survey results made it clear that the president was wading into a divisive area of American life, one that may not top the nation’s priority list but still has the potential to hurt him at the margins in elections in November. About 4 in 10, or 38 percent, of Americans support same-sex marriage, while 24 percent favor civil unions short of formal marriage. Thirty-three percent oppose any form of legal recognition. When civil unions are eliminated as an option, opposition to same-sex marriage rises to 51 percent, compared with 42 percent support.
In paragraph 15 out of 19, the Times revealed that Romney was leading by three in the head to head contest, 46%-43%, a gap within the poll's margin of error. The Times' poll partner CBS led with those figures in its online poll story. The Times also didn't mention the inconvenient fact that after all the talk fired by Democrats and the media of a Republican "war on women," Romney led Obama among women 46%-44%.
With less than six months until the election, Mr. Obama remains in a tight race with Mr. Romney. A month ago, a Times/CBS News poll showed the two tied at 46 percent each; the latest survey had the Republican challenger at 46 percent to the president’s 43 percent, an edge that was within the margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
At the end, the reporters fuzzed up the poll's awkward findings showing blacks still resisting gay marriage.
The sample size of the new poll was too small to break out comparisons by race, but aggregating four Times/CBS News surveys that asked the question over the last year opens a window into a racial dynamic that could be challenging for Mr. Obama.
Over all, black and white Americans divided on same-sex marriage in roughly similar numbers. But black Democrats were more skeptical than white Democrats. Forty-five percent of white Democrats supported legalizing marriage for gay couples, compared with 36 percent of black Democrats, while 35 percent of black Democrats opposed any legal recognition, compared with 28 percent of white Democrats.
Untangling the unneccessarily contorted text reveals that white Democrat support for gay marriage was 17 points higher than opposition, 45%-28%, while blacks only favored gay marriage by a single point, 36%-35%. Those numbers aren't "similar" or even "roughly similar."