Posted on

Will Rove’s 04 Strategy Backfire?

To defeat Obama, conservatives take the initiative – Los Angeles Times
Essentially, the strategy is a reprise of one Karl Rove used to push George W. Bush to victory in 2004, when he helped place measures banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in 11 key states. The Republican incumbent carried them all as religious conservatives — particularly evangelical Protestants — flocked to the polls to support the initiatives. This time around, similar measures denying marriage to gay and lesbian couples will be on the ballot in California, Florida and Arizona.

Is not this the same strategy that backfired in Wisconsin? Was not the intent of the “gay marriage ban” to defeat Doyle and soliify a Republican majority in the legislature.  It seems to me this is one chapter of Rovian Politics 101 that did not turn out so well.

What the “gay marriage ban” did was take gay marriage off the table for the religiously inclined voter.   One could on the one hand vote their “religious conscience” on gay marriage and at the same time vote their economic conscience.  In 2004 both the gay marriage ban and single payer, universal health care passed by strong margins.

It seems to me that having these bans on the ballot in California, Arizona, and elsewhere may have a similar effect to what happened in Wisconsin.  It allows the voter to separate his vote on gay marriage from his vote for president. A religiously motivated voter would most likely vote to overturn gay marriage, and then feel free to vote for Obama for president.

This is even more likely the case because of McCain’s perceived weakness on the religious front. It is Obama not McCain who is most comfortable with the Bush Doctrine of wearing religion on ones sleeves.