Will Gay Nups Hurt McCain?

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Republicans used gay marriage to their advantage during the last two elections. The slate this year, however, proves a bit more complicated.

We’re mired in a seemingly eternal war, the economy’s in the toilet, social security’s endangered and things are basically a big old mess.

While social conservatives want John McCain to toot his horn against last week’s gay marriage ruling in California, he’s sticking to the script and focusing on the aforementioned issues. And eschewing the well-trod marriage road may be the smartest thing he could do, says journalist Dick Polman, who believes gay marriage may potentially derail McCain’s campaign…

…Pragmatically speaking, it would be dicey for him to [discuss gay marriage]. The one time he put himself on the line for the issue, he was embarrassed by the results. In 2006, the voters of Arizona rejected a ballot initiative banning gay marriage within their borders – after McCain appeared in a TV ad making a pitch for the ban. And that was on his home turf. It’s hard to imagine he will now lead a charge against gay marriage in Ohio and Pennsylvania and other swing states – and risk turning off the independent voters whom he needs so badly in November.

Particularly in the eastern swing states, many of those independents tend to be socially tolerant, and even though most do not support gay marriage – a new Pew poll says that only 41 percent of independents back the concept – they are likely to be displeased that a candidate is crusading against it, at a time when the nation has so many more pressing matters.

Another thorny issue: young people. More young people support gay rights than older generations. And, as we all know, loads of youth are gearing up for Barack Obama, who looks likely to win the Democratic nomination. If McCain tried to play the gay card, then he would potentially alienate those young voters.

Still, the issue probably won’t come up too often, especially considering that the Democratic candidates, Obama and Hillary Clinton, don’t support gay marriage. If they did, then they could potentially torpedo McCain.