The president has taken a stand that could hurt him electorally, but his opponent's views on the issue are also out of sync with voters.
A couple of days ago, when President Obama's official position was that he was personally opposed to gay marriage but "evolving," presumably in a favorable direction, his stance was judged to be rather weaselly but probably politically expedient. Sure, it drew grumbles from gay-rights activists and liberals, this line of thinking went, but it was worth it to prevent Rust Belt white evangelicals and Southern black pastors from whipping up opposition to Obama based on an explicit declaration of support.
It follows, then, that Obama's admission Wednesday that he favors gay marriage is politically inexpedient -- though Republicans insist it remains weaselly, coming as it does the day after North Carolinians voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay unions, and on the heels of days of political pressure after Vice President Biden's comments in a Sunday interview that he favored "the same exact rights" for married gay couples.
Polling bears out the notion of political risk for Obama. Though the population as a whole is trending toward favoring legal gay marriage, those who actually vote are a different story, and voters in swing states are still less favorably disposed toward the issue. The landslide vote in North Carolina -- the 31st state that has passed such a ballot measure -- is a stark reminder that electorally, gay marriage is still far from a winner.