Obama and his team are running a laughably pathetic campaign. It’s mildly to be expected, the thrill is gone, and you’d have to be dumber than Joe Biden to want to run on that record. But still, there are some dumb moments…like
The latest major misstep is that Obama is now for gay marriage. Well, kinda (he thinks it’s a state’s rights issues). Sorta (he’s not going to push for the Defense of Marriage Act to be overturned).
Now before I lay into Obama for how stupid a move this was, let’s make a few things clear. First, I have no dog in the gay marriage fight. I think both sides are stupid. Marriage is a religious institution and should not be in any legal code. Legal codes should offer civil unions to any two adults that want one. That would protect the religious institution from government meddling and would give everyone equality under the law….but as of yet it appears the majority of the nation is squabbling over two options, both equally stupid. Second, you’re a moron’s moron, if you’re voting for or against Romney or Obama for their positions on gay marriage. Really you’re just about as dumb as it gets. The economy, foreign policy, the size of government, the sacrosanct nature of the Constitution and private property, healthcare reform, immigration reform, all of these are far, far more important whether or not the government issues a piece of paper when two people love each other (yes there are private property issues entangled with the concept of marriage, but last time I checked Romney seems willing to endorse civil unions that cover all those private property rights, and Obama seems viciously opposed to private property rights for straight couples, gay couples, and single people of all orientations). So for liberals who are voting for Obama because of this stance, you’re idiots. And for conservatives who are now voting for Romney (after your first choice, the ever psychotic Rick Santorum dropped out) only because he says marriage is between a man and a woman, you’re also idiots.
Okay, that said, let’s deal with the pragmatic realities of this choice.
First off, let’s dismiss this as Obama making a principled choice. If it was a principled choice, then the pragmatics of how it will affect his reelection wouldn’t be important, but it’s not a principled stand. As my friend, The Snark Who Hunts Back, points out it’s a little hypocritical for Obama to say that this is a state’s rights issue when he has opposed the 10th Amendment at every turn (healthcare, enforcing federal immigration laws, voter laws, just to name a few). And the fact that one in six of Obama’s high dollar bundler’s being gay also makes this ring a little hollow. (And keep in mind it appears he did this to make a mere 60 million dollars…not exactly a high price for a politician). (The actual number is about $12 million so far but I figure that the long term effect is going to be in the ballpark of $60 million, but I’ll admit this is a guess).
So if this isn’t a principled move, it’s a political one. And a very dumb one at that. One of Romney’s remaining problems was with the marginally unstable Santorum supporters who weren’t going to vote for a Mormon who passed gay marriage in Massachusetts. But low and behold Obama just gave this wacky bunch who considers social issues to be more important than those pesky economic and foreign policy issues that might actually have an effect on their lives a big reason to vote against Obama, even if they’re not still utterly thrilled with an economic conservative like Romney. So what Obama just did there is shore up Romney’s base. Did it shore up Obama’s base…not really, the people who this might have made a difference for were already going to vote for him. So Obama gained $60 million and by that probably saved Romney $150 million in ads designed to appeal to the Santorum-voter base and not alienate the middle.
So instead of wasting all that money, he just had to have a throwaway line at a college graduation and he shored up the all the Santorum voters who were still on the fence. “But Romney said he believes that marriage is between a man and a women, won’t that offend the middle?” I doubt it. While it’s not a 50-48 split in favor of gay marriage that’s of an “anyone asked” poll, and registered voters are more conservative than “anyone asked” polls, and likely voters are more conservative than registered voters…so of the voting populace it’s probably still against gay marriage. Further I think that of those 50% who are in favor of gay marriage, a heavy plurality if not a majority, can say, “I understand this is an issue with lots of religious, spiritual and personal values tied into it” and won’t have a knee jerk reaction against Romney who is in favor of civil unions.
This also hurts Obama. Why? Well because of those all important African-American and Hispanic votes. Yes these are voting blocs that tend liberal, but they are also very socially conservative and very against gay marriage. African-Americans in North Carolina voted 2 to 1 against gay marriage and it was these two groups that killed gay marriage in California. So will this mean that they will now vote for Romney? Not necessarily, but these are two voting blocs with historically low turnout and if you cross them on an issue like this that statistically they’re very impassioned about it creates the distinct possibility that they may just stay home and not vote (which was already a major threat with African-American voters this election cycle, so this is tipping them over the edge to not vote). Overall I would say that this will translate to a around a 1 point advantage to Romney overall. Not a lot, but let’s remember how many votes decided Florida. It is a point that Obama couldn’t lose.
So what does this do to the Electoral College? Most pundits are pointing out that most of the swing states are socially conservative states. Well, when you figure in the likely voter polls (as I did here), and that this shores up the Romney base and hurts the Obama base, I would say it moves Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Minnesota back into the toss up category and will probably give Romney the South. So my guess is that if we took likely voter polls right now it would be somewhere in the ballpark of Obama 187 electoral votes to Romney’s 248 (meaning Romney would have to win Ohio and one other state, or some combination that leads to 22 votes).
This wasn’t a principled or pragmatic move.
And it gets worse for Obama.
RealClearPolitics has the current Senate battle at 46 Democrat, 46 Republican, 8 toss up. This will probably move anywhere from 4-6 Senate seats from toss-up to lean Republican as most of those toss-up states are socially conservative. And it could move 1-2 from leaning Democrat to toss up and 1-2 from likely Democrat to only lean Democrat. In short Obama, in a tight election for control of the House may have just placed the straw that broke the jackass’ back.
Now you could say I’m reading too much into how this will effect the Senate, and you may be right, but if it convinces some of Obama’s base to stay home, as I think it will, this will hurt the Senate votes, especially in states where Romney is expected to win as Democrats will have even further reason not to go vote. I’m not saying this move guarantees a 60 vote Republican Senate, but it certainly won’t hurt. (And this will help the battle for GOP control of the House as well).
Again, if you’re voting against Obama and the Democrats only because of the gay marriage issue you’re an idiot. But the fact of the matter is that both parties seemed filled with people who prove the rule that “People are Stupid” and right, wrong or indifferent you have to take the actions of these idiots when you’re in a leadership position (screw angelic, if all men were intelligent and rational no government would be needed). Obama made a very stupid move not for principle but for a short-term gain that will hurt him in the long run. Ignore what side of the gay marriage debate you’re on, this shows that this man is not a good leader.