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Analysis: Obama appeals to liberals, risks swing-state backlash, with gay marriage move
WASHINGTON (AP) ' President Barack Obama's embrace of gay marriage is a political gamble that seeks to fire up young and liberal voters at the possible expense of alienating undecided voters in swing states such as North Carolina and Florida.
Some advisers, pointing to rapidly changing public views of gay rights, say Obama has more to gain than lose by the move. Strong opponents of same-sex marriage were unlikely to support him anyway, they say, and young voters who flocked to his barrier-breaking 2008 campaign are hungry for new reasons to get excited about his re-election bid.
These advisers note that many liberals are angry about some of the president's environmental stances and deeply disappointed by setbacks to his health care initiative. These voters and potential campaign volunteers need a new cause championed by a courageous, forward-moving leader, the thinking goes.
But there are potential downsides. Obama's decision on same-sex marriage might inspire social conservatives to give more money and campaign time to Republican Mitt Romney. In 2008, Obama narrowly won North Carolina, where voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
"Obama's decision will hurt him in Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, rural Pennsylvania, northern Florida, rural Missouri, lots of places that he needs," said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. Mackowiak said he thinks Obama chiefly made the move to gain more campaign donations from liberal activists.
Another Republican consultant, Terry Holt, called it "a little tint of vulnerability" by a president whose liberal base has been restless.