Politics and Public Opinion

What you may have missed in the polls: same-sex marriage, gas prices, and Super Tuesday

*Forty-nine percent of respondents told NBC/WSJ pollsters that they favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into same-sex marriages. Forty percent did not. In an October 2009 asking, those responses were essentially reversed. The change in attitudes could be related to more people reporting they know someone who is gay or lesbian. In the NBC/WSJ poll, 64 percent said they personally know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian. In a CBS/New York Times August 1992 question, 47 percent said they knew someone who is gay or lesbian.

*Nearly four in ten Americans (39 percent) approved of Obama’s handling of gas prices in February, according to an AP poll. Although the president’s approval rating on gas stayed the same for the past three months, 58 percent of the public were still dissatisfied with Obama’s performance on the issue. During the last week of February, 18 percent told Pew that they blame the Obama administration the most for rising gas prices. Fourteen percent named oil companies or domestic oil producers to be most responsible, and 11 percent blamed Iran and the upheaval in the Middle East.

*After Mitt Romney’s victories on Super Tuesday, one interesting question has arisen: if Newt Gingrich drops out of the race, where will his supporters turn? Data compiled by the FiveThirtyEight blog shows that among voters in OH, TN, GA, WI, and NC, 57 percent would turn to Santorum, 27 percent to Romney, and 16 percent to Paul.

*We took a close look at each Republican contest so far where an exit poll was conducted. Below are some of the major trends.

*In every state in which an exit poll was conducted, Republican voters have listed the ability to defeat Obama as the candidate quality that mattered most to them.

*Romney has usually won the votes of those who checked “can defeat Obama” as the most important candidate quality for them. With the exception of Massachusetts, he has not won the votes of those who checked “true conservative.”

*Ideological, class, and religious divisions continue in the Republican electorate. Romney usually loses “very conservative” voters, but he does well with the “somewhat conservative” and “moderate/liberal” voters. He loses rural voters and more religious voters. He does well with suburban, college-educated, and upper-income voters.

*Romney has done pretty well with Tea Party supporters, but not with strong Tea Party supporters.

*Tea Party supporters have backed the winner in every contest except Ohio, where Santorum edged out Romney by 1 percentage point among that group.

Interns Min Yoo and Wylie Galvin assisted in the research for this post.

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