Blog Post

New Polls Show Americans Aren't Fooled by Presidential Politics

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

A new New York Times/CBS News poll has found that Americans aren't buying the spin about either the "war on women" or the idea that President Obama's flip-flop on same-sex marriage was motivated by principle rather than politics.

The New York Times is reporting that, according to their new poll, the "war on women" doesn't seem to be working anymore. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is now beating Obama in this key demographic with 46 percent of female respondents saying they favor Romney and only 44 percent siding with the president. This is a marked shift in support from less than a month ago when the president was leading among women 49 percent to Romney's 43 percent.

Women do not appear to be impressed with the president's overt politics. His commencement speech at the all-female Barnard College, while presented as brilliant by his adoring press, actually won him a great deal of criticism for his obvious "pandering" to the women vote.

Ayelet Pearl, a student at Barnard, published a stinging editorial in the Columbia Political Review, saying that even though president's words were "beautiful," his use of the college as a political prop left her feeling "stereotyped, simplified, and used."

But that wasn't the only bad news in the new poll. The same survey found that 67 percent of respondents said they believe Obama reversed his position on same-sex marriage "mostly for political reasons" with only 24 percent saying it was "mostly because he thinks it is right."

Independent voters were the most likely to say the move was political, but half of the Democrats surveyed also felt the move was calculated rather than principled.

The results only added to the concerns of the White House where aids were worried that the events leading up to the announcement, such as Vice President Joe Biden's allegedly impromptu endorsement of gay marriage on a Sunday talk show, would come across as planned rather than off-the-cuff.

According to the new poll, it apparently has. 

The Times spoke with Holly Wright, 67, an independent from Smithfield, Virginia, who said she believes Obama decided to change his position because he believed American approval of same-sex marriage was increasing.

“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 Obama campaign reacted with scorn to the new poll, accusing pollsters of bias. 

Stephanie Cutter, the president's campaign deputy manager, dismissed the poll during an appearance on MSNBC yesterday morning, claiming it had methodological problems.

Host Chuck Todd asked her to address the results anyway. "Put those caveats aside," he said. "That's a lot of people saying that he did this for political reasons."

"We can't put the methodology of that poll aside, because the methodology was significantly biased." Cutter insisted.

However, when pressed, she refused to get specific about the methodology, saying only that pollsters used a bias sample in the call-back poll, "so they re-biased the same sample."

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