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Gay marriage issue: Who does it hurt most, Obama or Romney?

Gay marriage is not a campaign subject either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney really needed, and it could present difficulties for both candidates as the election nears.

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Amelia Jane Carson, left, and Karen Kleeman at the marriage bureau in the city clerk's office in New York. Ms. Carson and Ms. Kleeman, who live in Santa Fe, N.M., and have been together 28 years, traveled to New York in order to get married two days after President Obama said he supports gay marriage.

Seth Wenig/AP

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Gay marriage is not a campaign subject either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney really needed, and it could present difficulties for both candidates as the election nears.

Like President Obama, Americans are “evolving” in the direction of greater tolerance. But the number is actually down slightly from last year – 50 percent today compared with 53 percent a year ago, according to Gallup. And in several important swing states that Obama won by slim margins in 2008, strong majorities have voted to ban same-sex marriages in state referendums. (North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio come to mind.)

Since older, more conservative voters are more likely to show up at the polls on Election Day, Obama will need to reenergize the younger voters who propelled him to victory last time.

IN PICTURES: Same-sex marriage

The latest poll on the subject may be better news for Mr. Romney than it is for Obama.

A USA Today/Gallup poll out Friday finds that 51 percent of those surveyed approve of Obama’s new position favoring gay marriage, compared with 45 percent who disapprove.

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