Obama’s strategy of using gay marriage as yet another “flare issue” is going to backfire on him. The reason it’s going to backfire has nothing to do with his particular decision of being in favor of gay marriage. The reason it will hurt him is because he was naïve enough to jump into the fray of social issues to begin with. The sad thing is that he only did it to pacify his base in order to garner the campaign contributions which up to this point had been seriously lagging behind expectations. Otherwise, he could have easily stated such a position long ago. He had previously come out against gay marriage. So he didn’t evolve, he revolved purely out of political necessity.
As I stated in my book “Common Sense – A view from the Heartland”, social issues, whether they are gay marriage, abortion, capital punishment, etc. typically are at best 50-50 propositions in the political arena. Taking a firm position on just about any social issue will usually garner just as many enemies as allies. Taking a particular position paints a politician further out on the ideological extreme. Therefore, most politicians will feign to a more centrist position politically so as not to automatically alienate those with no concerted viewpoint. There is always a certain level of assumption based on party politics as to what position a candidate already takes, but most people are just as comfortable ignoring social issues during elections all together so that they can focus on economic issues instead. The problem for Obama is that’s the last place he wants our focus to be. Therefore, social issues are his only option.
The reason the gay marriage issue is going to hurt him is because he has solidified his position. Most ideologues, whether liberal or conservative, had already assumed his position so neither will be affected. It’s the centrist who were comfortable with the idea of not being forced to choose sides that will ultimately be alienated. He’s already statistically losing that demographic over the economy to start with so this new firm social position is only going to make things worse. Strategically there is a reason that most politicians view social issues as political suicide. No matter which position you take there’s never an up side, but perils aplenty.