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HUFFPOLLSTER: Utahns Evenly Split On Gay Marriage

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UTAH CAPITOL
In this Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, photo, shows the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Utah Attorney General John Swallow announced Thursday that he is stepping down amid multiple investigations of bribery and misconduct that have hounded him ever since he took office at the beginning of the year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

There is division on gay marriage...in Utah. Obama is up on one daily tracker but down on another. And New York City is optimistic about its new mayor. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, January 16, 2014.

UTAH NOW SPLIT ON GAY MARRIAGE - Brooke Adams: "A new poll for The Salt Lake Tribune shows that Utahns’ views on same-sex couples’ relationships have dramatically shifted in the decade since voters amended the state’s constitution to prohibit them from receiving any legal recognition. Residents are now evenly split on whether same-sex couples in Utah should be allowed to get state-issued marriage [licenses] — 48 percent for and 48 percent against — and nearly three-fourths (72 percent) said same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions or domestic partnerships in lieu of marriage." [Salt Lake Tribune]

WHY WE WATCH AVERAGES - Another reason to be cautious about the usually random day-to-day variation in the national tracking polls that follow President Barack Obama's approval rating. On Thursday, Gallup showed Obama approval falling to 39 percent for only the second time since August 2011. At the same time, Rasmussen Report's tracking showed it jumping to 51 percent, their best result for Obama since late October. Not surprisingly, the HuffPost Pollster chart, which produces an smoothed average of all public polls measuring Obama's approval, has remained essentially flat since November. [Gallup, Rasmussen, Pollster]

NYC OPTIMISTIC ABOUT DE BLASIO'S FIRST TERM - Quinnipiac: "By a 67 - 21 percent margin, New York City voters are optimistic about the next four years with Bill de Blasio as mayor, with everyone feeling good except Republicans, who are divided 44 - 45 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Black voters are most optimistic, at 80 - 6 percent, with Hispanic voters optimism at 76 - 9 percent….In an open-ended question, where respondents can give any answer, 20 percent of voters say education should be the top priority for the mayor and City Council, followed by 13 percent for jobs and 9 percent each for crime/safety and housing/affordable housing. Only 2 percent list "income inequality" or "class inequality." Another 2 percent list wages/minimum wage. Voters say 60 - 24 percent that de Blasio will make progress on the priority they listed." [Quinnipiac]

THE 'MYTH OF THE INDEPENDENT VOTER' - Amy Walter: "More important, however, is the misconception that these voters are embracing an "independent " status because they want their party to pursue a more moderate agenda, or to move to the middle instead of catering to the extreme. In fact, there is evidence that they are abandoning their party labels for the exact opposite reason: they see the party as moving too far from its core values. A recent paper for the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy by Kimberley Norman and Zachary Zundel, found that "the majority of Independent voters have political opinions that align with one of the two major parties at least as well as party members." In fact, they write, "independents who "leaned" toward one party or the other actually had stronger alignment than those who identified as "not very strong" in the same party. Additionally, their results were far more similar with those who identified themselves as being "strong" in their party." In other words, those who call themselves "independent" may actually be closer to the views of the core GOP or core Democratic policy positions than even those who identify themselves as a party member." [Cook Political]

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THURSDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data that we missed during our holiday break (starting with a few new items from today:

-PPP (D) finds Chris Christie improving his stature among New Hampshire Republicans. [PPP]

-Pew Research charts a timeline of Hillary Clinton's approval. [Pew]

-Half of Americans now own a tablet computer or e-reader. [Pew Internet]

-Sean Sullivan and Scott Clement share four "numbers you need to know" for President Obama's upcoming NSA speech. [WaPost]

-Geoffrey Skelley sees no "approval floor" for President Obama. [Sabato's Crystal Ball]

-Cliff Young finds Obama's ratings within the average of second term presidents. [Ipsos]

-Kathy Frankovic reviews Chris Christie's perceived weakness among Republicans. [YouTube]

-Prediction markets differ with polling on whether the bridge scandal has hurt Chris Christie. [@PredictWise]

-Sean Trende thinks pundits are underestimating Republican Ed Gillespie's Senate bid. [RCP]

-Chris Wilson (R) sees Obama's support among Hispanics falling due to a declining economy. [WPA Research]

-David Nir offers reasons to doubt a poll in Florida's 13th District. [Daily Kos]

-Kantar/CMAG finds 2014 U.S. House television advertising running ahead of 2014. [Cook Political]

-The Omnibus appropriations bill removes restrictions on NSF funding for political science. [WaPost's Monkey Cage]

-GOP strategists are working to improve their data analytics. [National Review]

-Anzalone Liszt Grove (D) adds four new partners: Matt Hogan, Zac McCrary, Molly Murphy, and Brian Stryker. [Release]

-Sports fans have some really weird superstitions. [PRRI]