Biting the Hand that Strokes You

Larry Sabato doesn’t think New Jersey’s McGreevey Situation will put the state in play for Bush — but it might just have national repercussions for the Republicans:

The Democrats may have New Jersey locked up, except in the very unlikely case of a Bush landslide, but the Republicans can squeeze some advantage out of the messy McGreevey matter in some of the key battleground states. Here’s how. As of now, it appears that there will be referenda in eleven states on the subject of gay marriage, held simultaneously with the November presidential election: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah. You’ll notice that this includes the swing states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Oregon. Missouri has already had its referendum on primary day on August 3, and the results were stunningly one-sided: 71 percent in favor of keeping marriage between a man and a woman, only 29 percent in favor of permitting same-gender marriage.

We’ll bet the referenda pass everywhere, even in liberal states, and by large margins in most places. This helps George W. Bush. For one thing, it stimulates gigantic turnouts by conservative Christians, who overwhelmingly favor Bush’s reelection–and whose absence from the polls in large numbers may have cost Bush the popular vote in 2000. (Gays will also have record voter turnouts, but the numbers aren’t there in most states to match the increased conservative participation.) Second, this hot-button social issue has the potential to equal the emotion being generated by Iraq. Just as Kerry benefits from the anti-Iraq fervor, so too will Bush profit from the gay marriage issue.

As longtime readers here know, I strongly favor gay marriage. But I’m afraid that New Jersey’s gay governor has done more to set back the cause than George W. Bush ever will.