Standard MSM Mistake: Event X happens. Pollster asks voters if their choice will be affected by event X. A majority say no–they are of course interested only in important issues like the economy and foreign policy, not Event X. Press runs with story, “Majority Say X Won’t Affect Their Vote.” The implication is ‘Nothing to worry about here. It turns out X isn’t a big deal.’
But of course if you are a candidate, especially in a close race, X can be a very big deal even if it only affects a small minority of the vote. If X actually loses you 5% of the voters, it’s a huge deal. If it peels off 10%, it’s likely to be a death blow.
Which brings us to:
Majority say Obama’s gay marriage stance won’t change their vote
which is The Hill‘s reassuring way of pitching this Gallup poll, in which 60% of voters said Obama’s support of gay marriage wouldn’t affect their vote. But 39% said it would–and they split two-to-one against Obama and gay marriage. Since the election is currently not two-to-one against Obama, that’s a net loss right there.
Worse, among independents, 23% said it would make them less likely to vote for Obama while only 11% said it made them more likely–a negative for a net of 12% of this group. Obviously, “less likely” doesn’t mean it’s going to be the deciding factor for that 12%–there are bigger issues, and gay marriage seems likely to fade in salience. But even if it’s the deciding factor for a tenth of that 12%, it’s a blow to Obama’s chances. The headline should have read something like:
Poll: Obama’s gay marriage stance hurts him with key voters
Backfill: Munro, yesterday, pretty much had that hed. …
Update: Bob Wright points out that if you “conjecture” that the indies who say the SSM shift will make them less likely to vote for Obama are actually mostly hardened closet Obama haters who would never vote for him anyway, but the indies who say it makes them more likely are actually mostly closet fence-sitters who are now actually more likely to vote for Obama, then the Gallup’s poll (and Pew’s similar survey) are not necessarily “bad news” for Obama. True, but why stop there? With the right combo of strained, asymmetrical assumptions, these polls are actually not just less bad news for Obama–they’re great news for Obama! Yes, that’s the ticket. …