hears from “Republican lawmakers who can’t wait to stop talking about gay marriage”:
Advisors to multiple likely 2016 candidates told TIME after the news broke that they are hopeful that swift action by the Supreme Court will provide them cover. “We don’t have to agree with the decision, but as long as we’re not against it we should be okay,” said one aide to a 2016 contender who declined to be named to speak candidly on the sensitive topic. “The base, meanwhile, will focus its anger on the Court, and not on us.”
But Vinik expects Ted Cruz to keep the issue alive:
As we’ve seen with Obamacare and immigration, when Cruz finds himself on the wrong end of public opinion, he doubles down on that position. That’s because conservative voters—the ones that will have an outsized impact on the GOP’s 2016 presidential candidate—are heavily opposed to Obamacare, to immigration reform, and, yes, to same-sex marriage. Cruz has reasoned that his best chance of winning the Republican nomination is to stake out positions as far to the right as possible. Whether or not he’s right, he will pull the entire Republican field to the right and make it even harder for his party to retake the White House.
Sargent argues along the same lines:
Some Republican operatives recognize the danger Cruz poses. GOP consultant Rick Wilson tells me:
“Putting the paddles on the chest of a divisive issue with absolutely no hope of the outcome he promises is a hallmark of Ted Cruz. When a plurality of Republicans in most polling is past this issue, it will only distract from more salient and compelling messages.”
Some GOP presidential hopefuls, such as Ohio Senator Rob Portman, plainly grasp that evolving on this issue is crucial to GOP hopes of evolving along with the country’s cultural and demographic shifts in ways that boost the party’s chances in national elections. But, as Ed Kilgore details, there will also be a powerful incentive for anti-gay demagoguery and opportunism from those — such as Cruz and Bobby Jindal — who hope to compete for a far right slice of activist social conservatives in key early states such as Iowa. And white evangelical protestants still overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage. So this issue may not fade away as quietly as more culturally and demographically attuned Republicans might like.