The announcement from President Barack Obama last month that he personally supports marriage equality failed to prompt a significant change in public opinion, which remains evenly divided on the issue, but his endorsement appears to have animated core supporters and opponents who already had strong feelings about the matter, according to a new survey released Friday.
The Associated Press-GfK survey of 1,007 voters by telephone last week found that 42% oppose same-sex marriage, while 40% support it and 15% have no opinion. Those figures roughly match last summer’s numbers, where a survey showed 45% opposed, 42% in favor, and 10% neutral.
“The AP-GfK poll showed that voters, at least nationally, didn’t flee the president,” reported the AP.
Where the announcement appears to have made a difference is with core supporters, such as Democrats, liberals, and young people. Some 41% of Democrats said they strongly approved of the president’s handling of marriage equality in the new survey, compared with 26% last summer. Some 48% of liberals strongly approve, compared to 28% last year.
That increased enthusiasm represents welcome news for Obama in what analysts expect to be a close race against Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, but the bump could be counteracted by a reaction from the right. The survey also found that Republicans and conservatives increased in their disapproval of the president’s handling of marriage equality after the announcement.
“But posing a potential problem for the president, his announcement also fired up the right — against him,” reported the AP. “More Republicans and conservatives said they strongly disapproved of his handling of the issue now than before; 53 percent of Republicans said that, compared with 45 percent in August, and 52 percent of conservatives say as much now, up from 43 percent back then.”