President Obama has recently received criticism by some in his own party for not leading on the same sex marriage issue the way that Governor Cuomo did in New York. President Obama supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. He has said his position on gay marriage is “evolving”.
Supporters of same sex marriage cite the political benefits that Andrew Cuomo has received for his stance. They point to his sky high popularity – a 64 percent job approval rating in the latest Quinnipiac University Poll – and glowing reviews in the press for getting this bill passed, despite a Republican controlled State Senate.
Supporters of same sex marriage are urging President Obama to change his position but the President has a lot more to lose than Governor Cuomo.
As a Democratic politician in a Democratic state, Governor Cuomo’s support of gay marriage wasn’t politically risky. However, if President Obama supports same sex marriage, he could lose key swing states which could cost him the Presidential election.
The Quinnipiac University Poll has just conducted polls in Virginia and New York in which voters were asked their view of same sex marriage. While New York voters support same sex marriage 54-40 percent, Virginia voters oppose it 52-41 percent.
President Obama doesn’t have to worry about losing New York. His approval rating there is 57 percent and in the last election he won 63 percent of the vote. He will carry New York again whether he supports same sex marriage or not. He has to worry about losing key swing states that he won in 2008, like Virginia which had not voted Democrat since 1964. Obama won only 53 percent of the vote in Virginia.
In Virginia, not only do Republicans oppose same sex marriage but so do independents. President Obama will need independents to win Virginia.
His job approval rating in Virginia is only 48 percent. In a close race, it doesn’t take much to tip the election. While the economy and jobs will be the top issue in every state, there will also be some voters who vote on social issues. Politically speaking, same sex marriage doesn’t appear to be a winning issue for President Obama.