Krugman argues that social issues, paramount among them health care reform, but also reproductive rights, has helped to make this an election where we on the left are mobilized while the right is in shambles.
How did that happen? Partly it’s because this has become such an ideological election — much more so than 2008. The GOP has made it clear that it has a very different vision of what America should be than that of Democrats, and Democrats have rallied around their cause. Among other things, while we weren’t looking, social issues became a source of Democratic strength, not weakness — partly because the country has changed, partly because the Democrats have finally worked up the nerve to stand squarely for things like reproductive rights.
All of this in turn has an implication that Republicans won’t like — assuming that Rasmussen doesn’t have a special insight into the truth denied to all other pollsters, and that Obama does in fact win with a solid margin. The right is already set up to blame poor Mitt, claiming that he lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. But that’s not what we’re seeing; it looks as if voters are rejecting the right’s whole package, not just the messenger.
I can certainly speak for gay rights issue. On that one, the Republicans are still awful – their candidates actually ran on reinstating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – while President Obama, after a wee bit of coercion from some of us, has ended up doing some major things on gay civil rights, like lifting the gay ban, but also supporting marriage equality which has had ripples in US court cases, and to foreign countries.
As we noted earlier, even Catholics are supporting President Obama, in spite of the right’s effort to claim that Obama is out to destroy the Catholic church by making Catholic hospitals cover their own employees’ birth control costs.
And just as odd, African-Americans are hanging with President Obama, in spite of his coming out in support of gay marriage.
So while social issues have helped to galvanize the left – either by forward movement by the Democrats, or nasty backlash by the Republicans – the right has seen no similar mobilization. In large part, I suspect, because Mitt Romney, their candidate, is at his core a weak man. He’s not a conservative, and hardly a Republican, and the base knows it. And it’s hard to get motivated about someone you think is going to double-cross you once he’s in office.