To state the obvious, any policy position that causes a candidate to lose more political support than they gain constitutes a politicial liability. For instance, any policy position that causes 23% of Americans to say they’re more likely to support you, while almost twice as many (40%) say they’re less likely to support you is a significant political leg iron in a close election.
Those are the recent findings of a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of Americans on the issue of the Obama Administration’s policy requiring employees to provide health insurance that covers contraception.
But despite such findings, the news coverage of the issue leads you to believe that it is President Obama, not Republican critics of the policy, who is suffering mightily from the issue. If you search Google News with “Obama contraception controversial,” you get 1,100 stories. The USA Today headline screams “White House to address controversial birth control policy.” Politico says “Obama tries to quell birth control firestorm.” The Seattle Post Intelligencer notes “Obama contraceptive mandate has a price.”
It sounds like Obama is getting destroyed on this issue. But the polls suggest his opponents are more endangered.
GOP frontrunner du jour Senator Rick Santorum had this to say about the issue:
“Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
Senator Santorum sounds like he is talking about the most deviant of sexual practices, but he is talking about something that 99% of sexually active American women, and 98% of Catholic women, use or have used. Why aren’t political reporters questioning the political exposure this creates for him and his party?
In GOP caucus echo chambers, maybe this works as a proxy for the claimed “war on religion.” But in the General Election, the polling shows that banning access to contraception constitutes an extremely dangerous politically transmitted disease.