Still no single clear leader in Republican presidential contest

Romney often under fire from conservatives for changing positions on issues including LGBT rights

Romney.Mitt.2

Mitt Romney

STEVEN R. HURST  |  Associated Press
editor@dallasvoice.com

WASHINGTON — Republicans are growing significantly less satisfied with the field of candidates to challenge President Barack Obama next year, and they are about evenly split in their support for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

Despite Obama’s low approval ratings and deep vulnerability over his handling of the U.S. economy, the poll of all people surveyed, including Democrats and independents, found Romney and the president statistically even. Obama leads Gingrich 51 percent to 42 percent.

With three weeks remaining before the Iowa caucus, the first contest where voters actually declare their choice of a candidate, Romney’s argument that his Washington outsider status sets him apart has not blocked Gingrich’s stunning climb to the top of the field.

A similar AP-GfK poll of Republicans in October found Gingrich well behind the leading candidates, with 7 percent. Romney had 30 percent.

The new poll conducted earlier this month finds Gingrich preferred by 33 percent of Republicans and Romney by 27 percent. However, that finding falls just within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Gingrich,Newt

Newt Gingrich

All other candidates are in single digits.

The poll also found a considerable drop in satisfaction with the overall Republican field. In October, 66 percent of Republican adults were satisfied, and 29 percent unsatisfied. Now, 56 percent are satisfied and 40 percent unsatisfied.

Voter preferences in early voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina do not necessarily match those in national polls. The Iowa caucus is Jan. 3. The New Hampshire primary is one week later.

At a time when polls show plummeting public approval of government, the 68-year-old Gingrich has a long history in the capital as a member of Congress, speaker of the House of Representatives and, since 1998, a lucrative, Washington-based consultant, speaker and author.

Except for four years as Massachusetts governor, Romney, 64, has spent his career in business and management. He ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1994 and for president in 2008.

Both men have earned millions of dollars over the years.  Romney has built his campaign largely on the argument that his business background makes him better suited for the presidency than anyone else, especially on creating jobs in an economy where unemployment remains at 8.6 percent. But in a recent debate in Iowa, Romney at first struggled to name issues on which he and Gingrich disagree.

After citing Gingrich’s support for a mining colony on the moon and changes to child labor laws, Romney said: “The real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector. I understand how the economy works.”

Among Republicans who say they prefer a non-Washington candidate, Romney has a modest edge over Gingrich. Gingrich has a larger advantage among those who say they prefer Washington experience in a nominee.

Romney’s better showing in a head-to-head matchup with Obama may give him some ammunition with Republicans whose top priority is ousting the president. Otherwise, Republicans appear to see Romney and Gingrich as similar in many important ways. The two men polled about evenly on the questions of who would be a strong leader, has the right experience, understands ordinary people’s problems and can bring needed change. Romney holds a clear edge on who is most likable. Gingrich leads on the question of who “has firm policy positions.” Romney is often asked about his changed positions on abortion, gay rights, gun control and immigration. Gingrich, however, also has shifted views on key issues.

AP Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay vote for GOP shows change in trend

Exit polls shows 1-in-3 voters who self-identified as gay voted Republican. Do we no longer see GOP as automatically anti-gay?

Matthew Tsien | Special Contributor

We learned a lot about gay voters in this last election — at least, you did if you have an open mind and a discerning intellect.

According to Fox News, which some gays do watch, 31 percent or more of self-identified gay voters in exit polls said they voted for the Republican Party. That is one in three gay voters, and more than the normal GOP base in the gay community of one in four.

That means a considerable number of gay Democrats and independents defected to the party opposing Obama/Pelosi.

Most gays will be shocked that gay people voted for what is supposed to be a party of rampant, uncontrollable, domineering, hyper-extreme homophobia. Well, at least that’s what most gays who live in a gay bubble all their intellectual and social lives would think.

Actually the number of gay people who voted for the GOP might even be 5-to-10 percent higher, since not every gay is inclined to self-identify as gay in an exit poll.

These numbers do tell us something very profound and unshakable about the gay political psyche, and it is not about self-loathing and being in the closet.
Instead, gay voters going to the GOP is strong indication that many gays no longer believe that the world — or even the GOP — is nearly as homophobic as the gay press and political class make it out to be.

Simply put, many gays have walked away from the once-popular notion of homophobia dominating the world according to the gay journalism universe. And they’re tired of being called “nut jobs” and in need of psychiatric help if they don’t vote Democratic or for more government.

Furthermore, many — approximately 30-to-40 percent embrace the Republican position of less taxes, less government, less bailouts, less deficits, less massive foreign borrowing, less Obamamania — and more freedom to run your own life, even the freedom to fail.

Gays know that HIV funding does not disappear with a GOP Congress. They also know that job protection does not evaporate if Republicans take over the government. And many gays just are not interested in marriage since it is set up for heterosexuals with all the potential traumatic divorce laws and financial devastation that accompanies traditional marriage. The trap of marriage equality is simply not a first and foremost concern to many thoughtful gay people.
Gay people were very involved with the Tea Party, phone bank operations and a multitude of effective get-out-the-vote efforts to help the Republicans win a historical election and deliver a massive repudiation of the extreme elements that have defined the first two years of Obama.

And that’s a fact worth noting.

Matthew Tsien is the former public affairs director for the Washington, D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans and a graduate of the National Journalism Center.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Tasmania’s lower house votes to recognize gay marriages, civil unions performed elsewhere

According to ABC News (that’s the Australian Broadcasting Co.), Tasmania’s lower house voted to recognize same-sex marriages and civil unions performed elsewhere.

All members of the House of Assembly, with the exception of three Liberals, voted for the measure.

The Liberals who voted against the bill said it was just a way to get same-sex marriage approved. (Duh.)

Those who voted for it said it was nothing of the kind. It was simply a way to “remove discrimination for same-sex couples.” (Huh?)

One of the Liberals who voted against the bill said it wasn’t about addressing discrimination but a “a political gesture toward marriage.” He proposed a civil union bill rather than recognizing marriage, according to the Sydney Star Observer.

To become law, the bill must pass Tasmania’s Legislative Council, which is comprised of one Liberal, three Labor members and 11 independents. A vote is expected in a month.

Tasmania is an Australian state that is a heart-shaped island 150 miles south of the country’s mainland. It is generally considered extremely conservative.

— David Taffet

—  David Taffet

CNN poll: Majority of Dems. and Independents ‘think the Constitution conveys the right to marry to same-sex couples’

Every day it seems, the right-wings arguments about marriage crumble a little more. They’re losing on public opinion — and the trend is heading in our direction.

CNN just released its latest nationwide survey. There were two questions on marriage for gays and lesbians — and the results are good. I added some emphasis:

Nearly half of all Americans think the Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll.

Forty-nine percent of respondents think gay and lesbian couples have the constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law, while 51 percent say those rights do not exist.

The gap widens dramatically when age is taken into account. Nearly six in ten Americans under the age of 50 say gay rights are protected under the Constitution. Only 38 percent of Americans over the age of 50 say the same thing.

“This is one of the few instances when independents side with one party rather than falling in between the Dems and the GOP,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “56 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents think the Constitution conveys the right to marry to same-sex couples. Only a quarter of all Republicans agree.”

By the time the Prop. 8 case hits the Supreme Court (assuming it does), we’ll have a majority on our side. Not that the Court will take that into consideration, but it takes away a talking point from the haters. By then, hopefully the President will be on board with full equality, too.

And, even better numbers when asked if gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to right to marry. A majority supports that view:

In a separate question, some respondents were asked whether the Constitution should (rather than does) give gays and lesbians the right to marry.

“That’s different than asking respondents what they think is currently in the Constitution,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

In that separate question, 52% said that same-sex couples should have the constitutional right to marry; 46% say the Constitution should not convey that right.

Here’s how it looks:




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Sessions: One-third of Tea Party is Democrats

Anti-gay Republican Dallas Congressman Pete Sessions, right, has joined the Tea Party Caucus founded by Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann, left. I don’t know which is scarier — the political reality of this situation or these side-by-side photos of the pair. But I also wanted to share this mind-boggling assertion from The Hill’s story:

Sessions said that every Tea Party event that he’s been to over the past year and a half has consisted of “one-third Democrats, one-third Republicans and one-third Independents. They are 100 percent fired up about trying to save this country from a big government that is taxing, spending and causing deficit.”



—  John Wright