Conducted 9/30-10/5 by Marist College; surveyed 829 RVs; margin of error +/- 3.4% (release, 10/8).
Obama As POTUS- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom 9/16 6/24 3/29 2/3 12/7 Approve 43% 74% 12% 35% 37% 49% 45% 44% 46% 44% 46% Disapprove 50 20 85 54 55 45 50 45 43 47 44
Fav/Unfav- All Dem GOP Ind 9/16 6/24 B. Obama 50%/47% 80%/16% 15%/83% 44%/53% 49%/48% 50%/43%
Do You Think Obama’s Approach To Solving The Problems Facing The Country Should Be Given More Time, Or Do You Think His Approach Will Not Solve The Problems Facing The Country?- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom Should be given more time 51% 81% 20% 42% 47% 55% Will not solve problems 45 15 76 54 50 41
Do You Think The Current Economic Conditions Are Mostly Something Obama Inherited, Or Are They Mostly A Result Of His Own Policies?- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom 9/16 Inherited 61% 86% 28% 60% 61% 62% 59% Policies 33 10 65 34 34 33 35
How Enthusastic Are You About Voting In The Elections In Nov.?- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom 9/16 Very enthusiastic 36% 28% 51% 32% 39% 32% 33% Somewhat enthusiastic 34 41 29 31 34 34 40 Not too enthusiastic 21 22 12 27 19 23 19 Not enthusiastic at all 9 9 8 11 8 11 8
How Much Have You Heard About The Cong. GOPers’ Pledge To America?- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom A great deal 13% 12% 17% 11% 14% 13% A good amount 22 18 27 21 26 17 Not very much 38 42 37 36 37 40 Nothing at all 25 26 17 31 22 29
Are You More/Less Likely To Vote For A Candidate For Congress Who Supports The GOPers’ Pledge To America?- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom More likely 39% 15% 74% 37% 41% 37% Less likely 39 68 8 32 36 41 No difference 7 3 5 13 9 5
Do You Think The Way Things Are Done In Gov’t Need Major Changes/Need Minor Changes/Do Not Need To Be Changed?- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom Need major changes 74% 65% 79% 80% 75% 73% Need minor changes 17 27 13 9 16 18 Do not need to be changed 1 1 1 3 1 2
(For more from this poll, please see today’s McCLATCHY-MARIST WH ‘12 story.)
It’s unlikely that same-sex marriage is going to push the economy out of the dominant role in this election. Indeed, short of a major international incident, it is unlikely that any other issue will displace the economic ones. But gay marriage was the most discussed issue last week. The most remarkable thing was not President Obama’s announcement that he would embrace same-sex marriage, even if it wasn’t exactly premeditated. Instead, it was a memo from a very prominent and well-respected Republican pollster suggesting that his party should treat the issue with considerably more caution than it has in the past.
Jan van Lohuizen worked for two of the three pioneers, Lance Tarrance and Bob Teeter, in Republican polling (the other was Dick Wirthlin). In 1986, van Lohuizen served as polling director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He has long been Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell‘s pollster. He was also the principal pollster for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns and was one of the key pollsters involved in Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign. Only the most wired-in political operatives and reporters know him. That is not by accident. Van Lohuizen has always worked to keep a low profile. He doesn’t have a self-promotional bone in his body and thus is far more given to understatement than to exaggeration.
That’s why his May 11 memo to party officials is all the more remarkable. Van Lohuizen starts off by reviewing the state and direction of polling on same-sex marriage. He points out that support grew at about 1 percentage point a year up to 2009 but has “accelerated” to a 5-percentage-point growth rate since 2010, pointing to the late-February/early-March NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that shows supporters outnumbering opponents by 49 percent to 40 percent. (A USA Today/Gallup poll found 50 percent saying same-sex marriages should be valid and 48 percent saying they should not). Van Lohuizen notes that support for gay marriage has increased across the board, although obviously Democrats are more supportive than Republicans. While younger voters are more supportive than older ones, he points out that “all age groups are rethinking their positions.” Van Lohuizen emphasized: “This is not about a generational shift in attitudes; this is about people changing their thinking as they recognize their friends and family members who are gay or lesbian.”
The memo argues that majorities of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters “support extending basic legal protections to gays and lesbians.” Such support includes “protecting gays and lesbians against being fired for reasons of sexual orientation; protection against bullying and harassment; repeal of “˜don’t ask, don’t tell’; right to visit partners in hospitals; protecting partners against loss of home in case of severe medical emergencies or death; legal protection in some form for gay couples whether it be same-sex marriage or domestic partnership (only 29 percent of Republicans oppose legal recognition in any form).”
Van Lohuizen urges GOP candidates to understand that “people who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination, and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections, such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”
Going further, van Lohuizen argues, “This is not about giving anyone extra protections or privileges; this is about making sure that everyone — regardless of sexual orientation — is provided the same protections against discrimination that you and I enjoy.”
He goes on to say that this is consistent with conservative principles: “As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment, and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government, we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to decide how you live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government.”
The pollster is not arguing morality or public policy. He is, however, suggesting his party recognize that it has staked out positions on this constellation of issues that fly in the face of rather rapidly changing public attitudes. Not unlike warnings from other strategists about Republican positions and rhetoric that have hurt them badly with the growing Latino vote, the GOP here risks being on the wrong side of an issue where the world is moving in a different way.
To be sure, political parties are not supposed to be weather vanes, changing whenever the wind blows in a new direction. When they choose to fly in the face of evolving public attitudes, though, they need to think about it long and hard; they need to decide if it’s really worth it and consider that times might have changed.
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