This issue ultimately may have an impact on the election, but at this point we don't think it will have an overwhelming influence on the outcome. There is enough volatility and emotion surrounding this issue that in a close election, it could tip the balance in several key states -- as could, it should be Noted clearly, many, many other issues. Iraq, jobs, and health care are certainly going to been engaged by the presidential candidates, neither of whom wants to fight this election out with gay marriage as a central issue, and the activists are unlikely to be able to force it front and center.
1. Since announcing his support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages, the President hasn't pushed the issue, to say the least -- there is no war room at the White House to get this done, and that isn't an oversight or an accident.
2. John Kerry would just like this issue to go away.
3. The chance of passing a federal constitutional amendment this year is zero, but measures on gay marriage are likely to appear on several state ballots in November. Although the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee are not overtly encouraging those measures, strategists in both parties agree that their presence will almost certainly boost conservative turnout.
4. Battleground states in which such measures are possible include Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Missouri, Michigan, and Minnesota.
5. In those same states -- plus Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and others -- it is almost certainly true that the Republican Party and the Bush campaign will do direct mail and persuasion phone calls to voters talking about the issue -- somewhat under the radar and likely only at the very end of the campaign.
6. Even the cynical among you should not discount the notion that the President backs a national amendment because he thinks it is the right and only way to solve a national problem that his been forced on the country by a handful of judges and activist mayors -- rather than because of a political calculation by Mr. Bush. Conservatives who were heartened when the President came out for the amendment will now be watching to see if he resumes his push for it after Monday.
7. That John Kerry will accept his party's nomination in the state he calls home at a time when the gay marriage issue still will be defined by Massachusetts is going to require a lot of political finesse by his campaign -- and they know it.
8. Kerry's record of voting against the Defense of Marriage Act (along with a handful of liberal Democrats and Daniel Moynihan); being in support of civil unions; being against the federal constitutional amendment; and now being passively in support of a Massachusetts constitutional amendment (after opposing one in the past) is the sort of the quintessential Kerry-style waffling (with some substance behind it) that the Bush campaign hopes to exploit when defining Kerry as an unacceptable, liberal flip flopper.
9. President Bush would have just as much rhetorical, political, and personal trouble answering the question that Kerry stumbled on during last Friday's press conference -- does he personally wish those who will have gay marriages well? Perhaps someone will ask the President the same question…..