1) Obama’s position on gay marriage
Last night—05/08/2012—I predicted that Obama would choose to support gay marriage.
Today, he took a calculated gamble and announced his support for gay marriage, a reverse of his position on this issue from his 2008 campaign—Flip-Flop or Etch-a-Sketch?
Why is this decision a gamble? Will this decision cost him the election?
Majority of African-American and Hispanic voters are against gay marriage—this was a main reason for proposition 8 in CA approval in 2008 (52.2% to 47.8%) when a large base of African-Americans came to the poll voting for Obama and at the same time voting ‘Yes’ on the proposition. Obama’s decision today would probably cause him losing some votes of these groups. On the other hand, he will get more support of the younger voters who tend to support gay marriage as well.
2) Effects on some of the major swing states
North Carolina (15 electoral votes): last night, 1,318,486 votes Yes (61%) on the marriage amendment while 832,618 (39%) votes No. There were 966,901 total votes in the Republican Presidential primary for the state. If we assume all Republicans voted Yes on the marriage amendment, then that meant about 351,585 Democrats voted Yes on the amendment. How much of these 351,585 votes—16.3% of total voters—will Obama lose in November? In 2008, Obama won this state by a mere 14,177 votes. This state is now a red state for Mitt Romney
Virginia (13 electoral votes): based on the 2008 presidential election data, Obama won this state by a margin of 6.3% (52.6%-46.3%). Obama won 92% of the African-American voters—a group that was 20% of total voters—and 65% of the Hispanic/Latino voters—this group is 5% of total voters. On the other hand, he won 60% of the 18-29 age group—a group of 21% of total voters. Will Obama gain enough on this group to offset the votes that he will lose on the other 2 groups? It’s unlikely. Virginia is now leaning red for Mitt Romney.
Ohio (18 electoral votes): Obama won the 2008 election by a margin of 4.6% (51.5% – 46.9%). Obama took 48% of the votes of the Catholic/Protestant/Christian group—81% of the voter base. On the 18-29 age group—17% of total voters—he got 61% of the votes. Again, if a third of this religious group would not vote for Obama because of the gay marriage issue, this state will be in the color of red. Again, it’s unlikely that the votes gained from the younger voters will offset the loss of votes from the religious group. Ohio is also leaning red now.
Florida (29 electoral votes): In 2008, 80% of the voters were Catholic/Protestant/Christian—45% of this group voted for Obama. The 18-29 age group was only 15% of the total voters and 61% voted for Obama. Florida has the same story here—Obama may not be able to offset the loss of votes in the religious group with the gain of votes in the younger age group in a state that he won in 2008 by just 2.8% (51%-48.2%).
Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes): In 2008, Obama won this state by a large margin 10% (54%-44%). 80% of the voters were Catholic/Protestant/Christian, and about 50% voted for Obama. The young voter group was about 18% of total voters—65% voted for Obama. This state remains a toss-up just because his margin of victory was large in 2008.
3) No guarantee for Mitt Romney yet
While the issue of gay marriage may be an important social issue, it may serve President Obama very well as another distraction—allowing him to run away from his record as an incumbent president.
Mitt Romney still needs to emphasize that Obama’s policies on the economy, job market and energy are not helping the country.