Chris Cillizza has argued that the Iowa Supreme Court decision that established gay marriage might disadvantage moderate candidates in the 2012 GOP primary. Cillizza notes that Heartland Iowa, a lefty Iowa blog, lays out a timeframe that would include a November 2011 ballot initiative that Nate Silver seems to think would be close, but the pro-traditional-marriage forces would prevail. (I have to say, I wonder what the presence of married gay couples does to his model)
UPDATE: This even happening would require getting it on the ballot, which would require the cooperation of the Democratic legislature. I kinda doubt that’ll happen, don’t you?
Anyways, back to Cillizza:
Assuming that time line is right, the fight over the constitutionality of banning same sex marriages would fall right in the heart of the run-up to the 2012 presidential caucus.
And, with the Republican caucus typically dominated by social conservatives, you can imagine the long-term impact today’s ruling could have on the presidential jockeying.
At first glance, the decision should help candidates — like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — who are closely aligned with the social conservative wing of the Republican party.
He then argues that this could really hurt Jon Huntsman:
One person who could potentially be hurt by today’s ruling is Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) who has staked out a moderate position on the issue — expressing his support for civil unions earlier this year despite the fact that large numbers of Utah voters oppose the idea. "I’m a firm believer in the traditional construct of marriage, a man and a woman," the governor told the Deseret News. "But I also think that we can go a greater distance in enhancing equal rights for others in nontraditional relationships."
Let me offer another thought. This could lead to a further minimization of the Iowa Caucus. My understanding is that Mitt Romney, who must be considered the front-runner, is already trying to figure out how to avoid Iowa or somehow reshuffle the deck. A number of candidates could reasonably try to skip it.
Iowa Republican Party politics will be very, very interesting over the next couple of years. I expect this to be ask much solved by the rules guys and party officials as by actual voters. But that’s really the point of caucuses, isn’t it?