Mitch Berg thinks that Bush’s gay marriage decision was a politically smart move on behalf of the President. While I’m dubious as to the substance of the FMA, I tend to agree.
In 2000, 2 million evangelicals stayed home on Election Day. That margin would have been enough for Bush to have easily captured the popular vote and would have cemented his lead in key states. With 20% of the electorate self-described evangelicals, this is a key voting bloc.
If Bush captures a majority of the evangelical vote, he will be reelected. The social conservative base of the GOP may be waning in direct influence and may be far more moderate now than in the past, but they still count for a lot. Karl Rove realizes, quite correctly, that getting that evangelical vote is critical. Bush has lost support with his base, and that’s not healthy. This initiative will likely prove to be far more popular with the electorate than with the chattering classes.