Recent poll shows Santorum support unchanged

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 22 2003 11:00 PM ET

Sen. Rick Santorum's recent derogatory remarks about homosexuality apparently haven't cost him political support in his home state, a new independent poll released Thursday suggests. Santorum received the same 55% approval rating among Pennsylvania voters this month that he had in April, before his controversial remarks made the national news, according to the statewide survey by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. However, Santorum's remarks may have turned some undecided voters against him. His disapproval rating rose from 20% in April to 33% in May, while the proportion of undecided voters fell by a similar amount, from 24% to 12%. "The folks back home in Pennsylvania are largely unconcerned about Senator Santorum's remarks about homosexual activity," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Connecticut-based institute.

When the 952 registered voters who participated in the poll were asked if they personally believe homosexual behavior is morally acceptable or morally wrong, 58% said it is wrong, and 27% said it is acceptable. Fourteen percent were undecided.

Santorum drew criticism from gay rights groups and Democratic presidential candidates after he said in an interview with the Associated Press published in late April that he believed states have a right to ban gay sex or other private behaviors "antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family," adding, "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery."

Asked in the poll whether they thought homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal, 45% of respondents said they should be legal, 35% said they should be illegal, and 19% were undecided. Fifty-five percent said Santorum's comments would not affect their decision on whether to vote for him in the future, and 75% said he should not resign his chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference Committee, as some critics have suggested.

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