Today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of gay marriage throws yet another twist into the 2008 Presidential campaign. A similar ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2004 helped to mobilize social conservatives-especially in the swing state of Ohio—to come out in election-winning droves to vote for George W. Bush. Bush and the GOP enticed conservative voters by dangling the prospects pushing through a marriage protection constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the second Bush term.
Alas, like many campaign promises, this one went unfulfilled. Disappointing, to be sure, for social conservatives but lack of action on Bush’s part meant the anti—gay marriage drum could be kept to beat on in the 2008 campaign (much as much touted anti-abortion, term limit and balanced budget constitutional amendments have been dangled by the GOP in front of conservative voters for decades.)
I wrote in April of 2004 that the Massachusetts gay marriage decision had probably handed the fall election to the GOP on a silver wedding platter. Turned out I was correct. This time, however, the impact of the California decision of the fall election will be more complicated. That’s because, of course, GOP standard bearer St. John The Moderate broke with his party in 2004 to vote against the Marriage Protection amendment. The California decision will agitate and invigorate social conservatives but, with McCain leading the GOP ticket, they have nowhere to electorally go. Sure, there may be a big proposition fight in California over a proposed anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment that may or may not make the November ballot. But this brouhaha will hurt McCain more than it helps him as it will soak up state and national political money that otherwise might have found its way into his campaign pockets. It won’t provide him with anything approaching the pro-Bush push the gay marriage issue provided the GOP in 2004.
Hillary Clinton supporters are increasingly saying they’d vote for John McCain over Barack Obama (up to almost 30% of the pro-Hillary voters in West Virginia, for instance.) If that happens Obama’s electability drops significantly.
Meanwhile conservatives are expressing increasing doubts about John McCain–especially after his remarks on global warming. (just listen to the talking heads of conservative talk radio lambast the fellow. You’d think McCain was Jimmy Carter’s long lost brother.) If McCain doesn’t come out against the California gay marriage decision (which he can’t do without looking like he’s doing what he’d be doing if he did it—pandering too the grossest extreme) social conservatives are liable to stay home come in election-losing droves. Worse for McCain, social conservative might vault the GOP to vote in protest for third party candidates yet unnamed, like former Republican representative and bane to Bill Clinton’s existence Bob Barr who’s trying to secure the Libertarian party nomination. Losing conservative voters makes McCain’s electability drops significantly.
Which leads to the interesting conclusion that, come November, neither Obama, McCain or anyone else can win! Constitutional Monarchy, anyone?