Out of no where, President Obama suddenly feels the need to declare his objection to North Carolina’s pending vote to ban on gay marriage.
Similar state laws have passed over his plate no less than a dozen times since he took office, but he felt no need to step up to bat. In fact, until now, he wouldn’t take a specific position on gay marriage at all, choosing to support civil unions and call his views on gay marriage “evolving.”
Here’s Obama in 2010 (White House Makes Sure Everyone Knows Obama Doesn’t Support That Crazy ‘Gay Marriage’ Idea) and here’s Obama now (Obama Opposes Proposed Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in NC).
So why is he suddenly objecting to North Carolina’s ban when he didn’t weigh in on other state’s bans? And why would he do this when a clear majority of voters in the state are against gay marriage? It’s a matter of arithmetic.
First, North Carolina is perhaps the most important state in the nation to his re-election campaign. Here’s why.
North Carolina is now a purple state. Let to their own devices in a presidential race, its voters could return a razor thin margin of victory to either party’s presidential candidate. As the American Spectator pointed out in the link above, the Obama camp clearly believes that they can swing the state to their side if they can get the more than 45,000 voters who work in Research Triangle and make more than $75,000 a year to vote for him.
Here, again, is who these people, who may be the most important voters in the nation, actually are:
These newly successful people have become the pivotal bloc that swings the state between Republicans and Democrats. They are not committed to either party. They are not terribly involved with social issues. Their main worry is the economy. If Republicans make birth control and separation of church and state the major issue, they will go Democratic. If the Democrats mess up the economy and produce $4.50 gas and 8.3 percent unemployment, they will swing Republican. That will probably decide the 2012 election.
So what does gay marriage have to do with this? These are members of Richard Florida’s creative class, the youngish professionals who are now beginning to have children. I know these people personally. They are the women I went to college with and their husbands. They’ll go off just as quickly about Sarah Palin wanting to make abortion illegal (they are firmly against that, and her) as they will the national debt (they find it outrageous and irresponsible). They have a liberatarian streak, resented the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, prefer smaller government, have no great love for the welfare system, love innovation and forward thinking of any kind, have at least considered buying a hybrid car and find Ron Paul … interesting, maybe even appealing, though they don’t know a whole lot about him.
And what do they think of gay marriage? Their position has evolved dramatically in the past year, along with Obama’s.
Among the 18 to 34 set, support for gay marriage now sits at 70 percent, up from 54 percent just last year. And that answers the puzzling question I asked a few weeks ago. After a decade of the GOP bringing up the gay marriage issue every major election and Democrats running for the hills, why are the Dems now the ones trying to keep the issue alive? And why would the Dems even go so far as to put a pro-gay marriage plank on their party platform for the first time and actually plan to debate it at the Charlotte DNC convention this fall, making Charlotte ground zero for the gay marriage debate?
Now we’ve got our answer. They have done their homework and they have pinned their election hopes on young professionals, and in North Carolina, they are talking to them right now. The GOP would do well to listen, and strike up a conversation of their own.