These are purple and red states. Five of these six states approved ballot measures against gay marriage within the last decade. The most recent was two years ago. Now you can’t even get a clear answer from Republican nominees in these states, not just about marriage, but about birth control or abortion.
In other states where general election debates have been held—Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska—Democrats haven’t brought up these issues, but Republicans haven’t, either. It’s true that Republicans are counting on dissatisfaction with the economy, Obamacare, and other domestic issues to carry them through the election. But the GOP used to be confident about social issues as a winner or a wash, particularly in midterms. No more.
Have Republicans surrendered on social issues? Far from it. Ernst, Tillis, and others are under fire precisely because they’ve waded into the policy fights. But they’ve lost faith that those fights can be defended at election time.
Since that’s what’s important anyway. Honestly. Now that they can’t make any hay out of hating gay people, they don’t openly hate them anymore. Now that there’s enough pushback on the slut-shaming, poor-hating policies that constitute the legislative agenda of the professional pro-lifers, they don’t come right out and say that lazy slags should keep their legs closed.
But when it comes time to cast their votes, their records will tell the tale, and you’ll pardon me if I have little sympathy for the problems that causes at cocktail parties.