A national poll by The New York Times and CBS News shows Americans believe Obama made his speech approving gay marriage “mostly for political reasons.”
An overwhelming majority of 67% of those polled said they think Mr. Obama was mostly pandering for votes while 24% indicated they think he made the speech because mostly due to personal conviction.
The poll shows most Americans feel Obama’s speech and the coordinated leaks that preceded his television network announcement were “calculated rather than principled.”
Mr. Obama has been saying that he was “evolving” on the issue of gay marriage since 2010, and because he made his major public speech on the issue in the heat of his campaign for re-election, most Americans think it was a political ploy.
Top advisers in the Obama campaign have become nervous since national polls suggest the move may cost their candidate more votes than it gains him.
Obama followed Vice President Joe Biden in announcing his change of heart, adding more questions about the President’s sincerity. Mr. Obama was against gay marriage before completely evolving on the issue last week. Suspicions about Obama’s political motivations spread into the Democrat Party along with an overwhelming majority of Independents and Republicans saying Obama made his televised gay marriage speech mostly for political reasons, according to the poll.
Holly Wright, 67, an independent from Smithfield, Va., who worked in the food industry, said she believed Mr. Obama concluded that more Americans agreed on same-sex marriage. “He believes it will help him win the election,” she said. “In other words, say what the majority of the people want to hear.”
The survey leaves little doubt that Obama has not convinced Americans that he is speaking from the heart even if they generally support gay marriage.
“If Biden hadn’t said something, I don’t think he would have said anything either,” said Larry Gannon, 48, a graphic artist from Norwalk, Calif. and an independent, who participated in the survey.
About four in 10, or 38 percent, of Americans support same-sex marriage, while another 24 percent favor civil unions short of formal marriage, according to the survey. Another 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 to 42 percent support.
The poll suggests Obama may have hurt himself with an issue that most Americans don’t see as a top priority. At the same time, those polled consider his action a contrived political maneuver which could be a double negative for his campaign.
Recent national polls show presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has overtaken the President and the conception that his gay marriage speech was contrived by political calculations has the potential to sway a close election.
The Times/CBS News poll showed gay marriage remains a controversial issue. Just 32 percent of those polled said the federal government should determine whether same-sex marriage is legal, rather than leaving it to the states.