Poll finds support for birth control and gay marriage

With rival Rick Santorum surging in national polls, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has been shifting focus from talking about the economy to highlighting his socially conservative credentials, according to Politico.

The latest poll from New York Times/CBS News shows that this may not be the wisest idea, as voters weigh in on two of the most controversial social topics this year: birth control and gay marriage.

The New York Times noted that most voters (in the poll conducted from Feb. 8 to 13) came out in support of President Barack Obama’s directive that health insurance plans should provide birth control coverage, as well as in support of legally recognizing same-sex couples.

About 65 percent of voters said they supported the administration’s requirement that birth control be provided by health insurance companies, and 59 percent said that the health insurance plans provided by employers with religious affiliations should also cover birth control costs.

More on GlobalPost: Catholic bishops still oppose Obama birth control rule, despite change

Last week, Obama offered religious groups a compromise, giving employees of religious institutions the option to receive free contraception through their insurers, not their employers. The move still did not satisfy Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders.

Catholic voters in the poll sided with the Obama administration’s decision rather than their church, and two-thirds of them supported gay relationships being recognized, with 44 percent favoring marriage and 25 percent supporting civil unions. Evangelical Christians expressed more conservative views, said The Times.

The Romney campaign, meanwhile, has focused on burnishing his socially conservative credentials with him declaring at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference that he was “severely conservative” and opposed abortion rights, gay marriage and cloning, reported The Boston Globe.

Politico and other analysts have noted that by appealing to social conservatives and abandoning his economic message, Romney risks alienating independents and swing voters.

More on GlobalPost: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum ramping up rhetoric

Here is a clip from Buzzfeed of Romney at CPAC telling the audience he prevented Massachusetts from becoming "the Las Vegas of gay marriage."

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