Rob Portman’s Approval Ratings Dip Following Gay Marriage Endorsement

Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s approval rating has slipped slightly since endorsing gay marriage last month, but only among Republican voters. Given the country’s broad shift towards supporting same-sex marriage, the senator’s change of heart still may ultimately help him in the long run.

A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows that Portman’s approval rating slipped from 44 percent in February to 40 percent today. During the same time period, his disapproval rating rose from 24 percent to 31 percent. 40 percent of Republicans now say they think less favorably of Portman because of his gay marriage endorsement.

20 percent of Ohioans now view the senator more favorably, while 25 percent view him less favorably. 53% don’t care one way or another. A politician is a politician, after all.

Rob Portman announced support for same-sex marriage last month due to the fact that his son, Will Portman, is gay. He had come out to his family two years ago. Rob Portman joins former Vice President Dick Cheney as a Republican who feels compelled to support same-sex marriage due to the sexual orientation of their children. Cheney’s youngest daughter, Mary Cheney, is openly lesbian and recently married her long-time partner last summer.

Though a majority of Ohioans support same-sex marriage, it is a narrow lead of just 48 to 44 percent. This mirrors the national trend, where for the first time in American history, a narrow majority of Americans now support the legalization of gay marriage.

Rob Portman’s gay marriage endorsement is less controversial with Ohioans than his vote against background checks Wednesday. The vast majority of Ohioans support universal background checks for gun purchasers, a whopping 84 percent. Granted, this is less than the 90 percent of Americans the president regularly cites as supporting background checks nationwide.

Gay marriage, quite frankly, is not the divisive issue it was just four years ago. While then it was still considered politically non-viable for a national candidate to openly support same-sex marriage, now nearly all Democrats in the Senate have announced their support, including the vast majority of Democrats in conservative states. The times, they are a changing, and Rob Portman’s gay marriage endorsement isn’t that much of a game changer anymore.