Timothy Egan of the NY Times wrote an op-ed about why wedge issues like ‘Gays, Guns and God’ will have little impact on the election next year.
To substantiate his argument, Egan pointed to a recent New York Times/CBS News Poll of likely Republican caucus goers.
According to the poll, 40 percent of respondents said they were most concerned with the economy and jobs, followed by the budget deficit at 23 percent. Only 9 percent cited social issues as a top concern.
And as for the candidate who polled highest as one who “most represents the values you try to live by” – that was Michelle Bachmann, who is currently running in 5th place in the overall race.
Egan also pointed to Gov. Perry’s latest efforts to gin up support by appealing to the three G’s, which, according to Egan, have fallen flat.
He wrote, “But the decline of the three G’s hasn’t stopped a few of the dead-enders in the Republican field from raising the flag. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, last seen trying to find a verb to follow 'oops,' is out this week with a very specific culture-war ad in Iowa, vowing to end 'Obama’s war on religion,' whatever that is."
With particular respect to guns, Egan said, “President Obama has done nothing to curb gun use. If anything, he’s expanded gun rights. There are probably a dozen Democrats in Congress from the West who know more about guns than Mitt Romney or Professor Newt Gingrich. That dog, as they say, will not hunt — not this year.”
One can argue that it is presumptuous of Egan to make such a claim, especially regarding guns.
For starters, one can say that Romney has had troubling pulling away from the pack due to his dubious stance on firearms.
But, more broadly speaking, the issue of guns has not been discussed during the debates to a great extent because all of the candidates voice pro-Second Amendment rhetoric.
To discuss an issue where there is a majority consensus with very little variation seems to be, at least to the moderators, a waste of time. As a result, many voters see all the candidates (again, with the exception of Romney) as being equally pro-gun.
Therefore, voters need to turn to and place importance on other criteria (ability to create jobs, plan to reduce deficit, potential to beat Obama) to make an informed decision about which candidate to support.
All that said, the biggest fault with Egan’s presumption is the notion that President Obama has done nothing to curb gun use.
While it’s true that many states over the past four years have become increasingly pro-Second Amendment (Wisconsin, for example), the Obama Administration has presided over the failed gunwalking operation Fast and Furious, which was used to justify the long-arm multiple purchases tracking measure.
This inconvenient truth will certainly come back to haunt Obama in the 2012 election and overshadow his otherwise laissez-faire stance on the Second Amendment. In short, and to the chagrin of Egan, this dog will hunt.
(For more on this, one can also check out NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre’s essay on why gun owners will make a difference in the 2012 election).