Although it seems like years ago in campaign time, it’s been just two weeks since President Obama announced his support (to be determined by states on a non-federal level) for gay marriage. Following a slip on the issue by Vice President Joe Biden during Meet The Press the Sunday before a vote on an amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in North Carolina–that polls accurately predicted strong public support for–news coverage over the following week was dominated by the North Carolina amendment, changing positions of the administration and subsequent reaction. At the time, many made bold predictions of the affect the endorsement would have on the president’s reelection campagin.
Two weeks later, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that the president’s decision has resulted in offsetting political results.
In the poll, a combined 17 percent say it makes them “much more likely” or “somewhat more likely” they will vote for him. That’s compared with a combined 20 percent who say the announcement will make them more likely to vote for Mitt Romney, who opposes gay marriage.
Perhaps more importantly, 62 percent say the president’s support for gay marriage doesn’t make a difference in their vote — including 75 percent of independents, 76 percent of moderates, 81 percent of African Americans, and 65 percent of residents in the Midwest.
Jay Campbell, a Democratic pollster who worked on the poll, tells the Wall Street Journal that the ascension of the issue may have helped Mitt Romney gain support with core Republican groups, including 43% of conservatives, who the WSJ reports say his opposition reinforces their support for him, and 62% of evangelicals who say the same.
WSJ notes that only among young voters, ages 18-34, does support of gay marriage show a slight problem for either candidate.
Almost half of young Obama supporters—47% — say his position reinforces their support for him. And 21% of young Romney supporters say his position gives them some concern about him, vs. just 8% of all his supporters.
“The generational differences on this issue are enormous,” said Mr. Campbell.
While the poll finds 54% of Americans would support state laws supporting gay marriage, only one in four people say they would “actively support” a law establishing same-sex marriage.