Just days after President Obama announced his support for gay marriage, a respected Republican pollster urged members of his party to evolve on the issue, too. Jan R. van Lohuizen, who advised George W. Bush during his 2004 campaign, wrote in a memo leaked over the weekend that public opinion is quickly shifting in favor of same-sex marriage — by 5 percent a year since 2010 — and that the GOP needs to change with the times. He suggests that Republicans rationalize their support for gay marriage because "freedom means freedom for everyone," including same-sex couples who want to live without the government meddling in their lives. Is there any chance the GOP will follow his advice?
The GOP has to evolve to survive: "This is the GOP establishment talking to itself," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. And obviously, some influential Republicans recognize that "they need to evolve and fast, if they're not going to damage their brand for an entire generation." But the most remarkable thing about this memo is that van Lohuizen is telling Republicans to back gay marriage because they're conservative, arguing that "it encourages personal responsibility, commitment, stability, and family values." The walls are "tumbling down."
"Top GOP pollster to GOP: Reverse on gay issues"
No. This would be a big mistake: Opposing gay marriage "is still a winning argument" for Republicans, say GOP pollsters Chris Wilson, Chris Perkins, and Byron Allen in a memo published at National Review. Republicans shouldn't abandon the "pro-family position" based on polling trends that may prove ephemeral. Remember, trends change, and support for gay marriage is still "a 50/50 issue." Besides, the economy, not gay marriage, will decide this election.
"Gay marriage positioning"
The GOP's evolution has already begun: The 2012 campaign represents the last gasp of GOP opposition to same-sex marriage, says Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Republicans are trying to "use the issue quietly in social conservative back-channels" to drum up turnout, but "they know that raising the issue among voters in general would be dangerous." Americans are split on gay marriage but "unified against intolerance." Let's be honest: "We all know how this is going to turn out."
"Gay-marriage debate just a matter of time"