Obama’s announcement that he supported same-sex marriage caused an enormous spike in discussion of Social Issues (red). In the past two weeks, discussion of social issues in election coverage has surpassed that of the economy for the first time since mid-April. Biden sparked discussion of the issue when on the May 6 Meet the Press : “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.” This caused an initial 5% increase in discussion of Social Issues from May 4 to May 7.
Obama’s subsequent announcement on May 9 caused the discussion of the topic to explode. From May 7 to May 10 Social Issues discussion saw an increase of almost 30%. In the past two weeks, discussion of Social Issues has seen an overall increase of 44%. Biden’s and Obama’s announcements have firmly put the discussion of unemployment and jobs on the back burner. Mitt Romney hasw taken a cautious approach to responding to the topic. He has put forth his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and he has tried to re-direct the election coverage back to the Economic issue.