Among the many apoplectic responses from Iowa conservatives to the gay marriage ruling, Ted Sporer's stands out. He's convinced that Republicans are losing on organization alone:
There is a reason Labor/Socialist/Democrats win elections on the wings of fringe ideology. Although homosexual marriage is opposed by large majorities both in Iowa, and every other state the L/S/Ds were able to turn out nearly a thousand people to show public support for homosexual marriage.
The fringe groups that comprise the L/S/D are able to produce much more intense, and hence much more involved, activists. This intensity not only translates into licked envelopes and dialed phones in election years but also molds public opinion in the off years, not to mention municipal and school board elections...
If we don’t elevate our game the majority will continue to be gripped and punished by the alliances of fringe politicians that make up the Democrat leadership.
But Sporer still wants to play the same game, and call the same plays, even though those plays get weaker year by year.
Earlier this week I loosely tied together several issues and argued that several Republican core issues are literally dying off, as the pre-boomer generation dies off and the millenial generation--who came of age during Bush Jr. incompetence and went two to one for Obama--joins the electorate.
Nate Silver crunches the numbers on this in light of the marriage ruling and conmcludes:
Marriage bans are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year. So, for example, we'd project that a state in which a marriage ban passed with 60 percent of the vote last year would only have 58 percent of its voters approve the ban this year.
Factoring in the percentage of adults who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives and the percentage of white evangelicals, Silver concludes that the tipping point for Iowa to support marriage equality at the polls is somewhere around 2013--real close to the 2012 date that it might reach the ballot. Silver also concludes that even Mississippi (!) will be supportive in 2024.
This ruling risks splitting the GOP even deeper, as one of Sporer's commentators notes: "If you have even one drop of libertarian blood in you, you must feel at least a little bit silly about getting all bent out of shape over gay marriage." I don't see the GOP actually splitting, except maybe temporarily. Our bipolar winner take all system dictates two parties, and is too deeply embedded to change in the short or medium run. But twenty years from now, our faceoffs could be between an Obama style, I am my brother's keeper Democratic Party, and a small government, libertarian Republican Party, with the theocrats pushed to the sidelines.
But in the short haul, the Republicans seem eager to paint themselves further into a corner, defining themselves more and more by the unpopular social issues and alienating a whole generation.