Public Policy Polling has a pretty convincing rundown of the political ramifications of the contraception controversy:

-Republican agitating on this issue could cause themselves trouble at the polls this year. 40% of voters say Mitt Romney’s stance makes them less likely to vote for him, while only 23% consider it a positive. With the Catholic oversample [of almost 400 Catholics] it’s 46% less likely and 28% more likely. And Congressional Republicans are imperiling themselves as well. 58% of voters oppose them trying to take the benefit away, while only 33% are supportive.

Republicans will win this fall if they can convince voters that the economy stinks and it’s Barack Obama’s fault and putting them in power will fix the problem. If they want to make it about social issues and making it easy and affordable for women to access birth control, Democrats win.

Run away, GOP! Run away!

Obviously, questions of whether and how and why the the Republican Party and the many independent actors that constitute it attempt to exhume certain “values” issues are complicated and multifaceted, especially during primary season.

But on some fundamental level, there have to be a lot of otherwise levelheaded people in the GOP who, when faced with the prospect of wading back into these waters, can’t help but react the same way Homer Simpson did to the Good Morning Burger. As long as you don’t take the time to actually understand public opinion and how it is changing, these issues just look so good, so tasty, so loaded with the rich creamery butter of cultural panic.

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Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.