Republicans Are Leaving Gains on the Table

In addition to endorsing a complete ban on abortion through constitutional amendment, the Republican Party platform will also include opposition to same-sex marriage, reports the Washington Post:

Barbara Ann Fenton of Rhode Island suggested that the 112 members of the GOP platform committee endorse new language that would call for religions to define marriage in their own way but allow government to offer civil unions to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. […]

Other delegates said support for traditional marriage is a bedrock Republican principle.

“Government extends benefits to marriage because marriage benefits society,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a delegate from Louisiana. “It benefits children, which in turn benefits society.”

One of the obstacles facing President Obama as he runs for reelection is his middling approval with young voters. They formed the bedrock of his volunteers and supported him by large margins in 2008, but have been hit hard by the sluggish economy—the unemployment rate for 18- to 29-year olds was 12.7 percent in July, more than 4 points higher than the national average. He still maintains a high approval rating among the demographic—58 percent according to the latest Gallup survey—but it’s eight points lower than his final performance in 2008.

For Republicans, this means an opportunity to capitalize on discontent and make inroads that could harm Obama’s standing in states like Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina, which have disproportionately large shares of younger voters. But because the current GOP is congenitally unable to compromise or moderate, it will leave that opportunity on the table.

You could extend this basic analysis to almost every other demographic group. The sluggish economy means that Republicans could have made gains with traditionally Democratic constituencies like women and Latinos. But the party’s refusal to move away from its base has left them even more likely to support President Obama. It’s a huge failure of politics, and if Republicans can’t generate huge turnout among their loyalists, it will cost them the election.