GOP avoids gay marriage ruling

When a federal judge in California last week ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, several political observers braced for a flood of Republican blasts on the issue that could end up resonating in campaigns nationally. Instead, the anticipated GOP bang over the ban amounted to little more than a whimper.

« Every indicator that I have … generally speaking is that economic growth and job creation are the tandem issues that will be the principal drivers of voter decision at polls,” said Republican National Committee political director Gentry Collins. « What I’m encouraging candidates to do is go out and run on an economic platform, a jobs platform. »

Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, put it simply: “A modern party does not want a campaign that’s built around a crusade on gay rights. … it won’t work, for one thing, and for another, it’s so controversial that it would obscure the nonpartisan appeal of the economic issue.”

“An issue like this would normally become a flashpoint in a campaign as a result of the need to draw a clear contrast between parties or candidates,” GOP strategist Kevin Madden said. “But the main issue mobilizing voters right now is the economy. … Move your focus off of the economy, and you risk losing your best issue.”