In a poll taken by PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey from May 2 to May 6, white evangelicals backed Romney by only 68 percent to 19 percent -- well under the 79 percent support they gave George W. Bush's winning campaign in 2004.
Now? Well, the numbers aren't crunched yet but take this as a leading indicator: Robert Jeffress, the Dallas Baptist minister who called Mormonism a cult at last year's Values Voter Summit, just endorsed Romney: "Given the choice between a Christian like Barack Obama who embraces very unbiblical principles like abortion and a Mormon like Mitt Romney who supports biblical values like the sanctity of life and marriage, I think there's a good biblical case for voting for Mitt Romney," Jeffress said.
2. Obama turned off independents.
A whopping 40 percent of voters told Gallup that Obama's endorsement of gay marriage would affect their vote, and among independents -- by a 2 to 1 margin -- it made voters less likely to vote for him.
3. Obama may have put his own black and Latino base into play.
Pastor Emmett Burns (a delegate to the Maryland Assembly) was very upset: "He has said to his base, African-Americans, 'I am going against your beliefs and your thoughts,'" Burns told the media. He now says he will no longer support the president and predicts Obama will lose in November.
How many Pastor Burnses are out there? We do not yet know.
Here's the biggest change: Obama, by endorsing gay marriage, has broken through the media silence imposed on those who oppose gay marriage, generating new, unexpected and highly visible expressions of opposition.
All of a sudden, pastors across America are preaching against gay marriage. Conservative talk radio shows are addressing it. People are hearing that their friends and neighbors disapprove.
A new dynamic is in play, set in motion by Obama's misjudgment: He believed the pundits and chose the money over the voters.
That's almost always a bad bet for a president. In November, unless he evolves again, he will find out just how bad a bet that was.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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