Over at Time magazine, Mark Halperin and his crew break down the possibilities in November through the lens of the President's recent comments on marriage equality:
Both risk and opportunity accompany President Barack Obama's same-sex-marriage endorsement, but neither will come close to trumping the economy as the decisive issue in November. Obama was on track to make his declaration at some point before Election Day, but there's no doubt his hand was forced by Vice President Joe Biden's premature pronouncement of his own support.My emphasis.
The announcement helps Obama with young, gay, lesbian and urban voters, gay-friendly media and some wealthy liberals who, disappointed with a range of Obama Administration policies, were sitting on their wallets. But it hurts the President with broad pockets of rural and exurban voters in swing states like Ohio, Iowa, Virginia and Florida, conservatives who are energized by a controversial issue and a number of religious leaders, including some who are African American.
The greatest indication that public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted over the past few years: almost no prominent GOP elected officials raised the issue after the day of the endorsement; party leaders, almost to a person, changed the topic to the economy when asked about Obama's now evolved stance.
Besides, at a time when Republicans are trying to minimize the impression that their party is intolerant, the last thing they want is to pick a big fight over personal liberty and morality. Rest assured, they will quietly communicate Obama's position to targeted voters via religious organizations and mail as the election nears. And if Obama loses narrowly, some of his supporters are sure to look back and wonder if publicly backing gay marriage cost him his job.
Really? If the President loses his re-election bid in November, people are going to blame his stance on gay marriage? REALLY?
If the President loses in November, it will not be because he (finally) came out in support of marriage equality. It won't be because of a perceived 'softness' on terrorism. It won't be because of issues like the environment, immigration, or union labor.
If the President loses in November -- and that is a very big 'if' -- it will be because of the age-old presidential election question; "are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
Come election day, if enough Americans feel that things haven't gotten better, or haven't seen at least some measurable improvement in President Obama's first term, then I can see how he might lose.
But to contend that supporting the right for homosexual Americans to get married would lose a Presidential election is simply preposterous. Gay rights are, at best, a tertiary campaign issue -- trumped by the likes of the issues that I mentioned above.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge supporter of marriage equality. I just think that, with the possible exception of ultra-religious conservatives, the vast majority of Americans are going to vote with their wallets.