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    February 08, 2008

    Gay Republicans for Obama?

    Posted by: Chris

    Richtafel Rich Tafel, the former president of Log Cabin Republicans credited with turning the fledgling organization into a national gay political force, has announced he supports Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential primary. It's a remarkable statement from a veteran of the partisan battles of the 1990s, even if Tafel hedged his bets by also saying he supports John McCain for the GOP nomination.

    “I’m really impressed with Senator Obama, particularly his ability to reach across party lines and get things done,” Tafel told the Washington Blade. “I think he has the potential to be a world changer.”

    Kevin Ivers, my co-blogger here on The Citizen, was just as central to Log Cabin's rise and has echoed Tafel's sentiments on both McCain and Obama in a witty and right-on post yesterday.

    Prominent gay conservative Andrew Sullivan has also backed Obama and McCain in their respective primaries, and I have added my own statements in support of Obama as well.

    Neither Tafel nor Ivers is saying who they would support if McCain and Obama face off this fall, but if nothing else their public statements of support illustrate the incredible crossover appeal that Obama could have as the Democratic nominee.

    Democratic partisans who like both Obama and Hillary Clinton should take note. In a general election matchup between McCain and Clinton, the maverick Republican takes the independent vote. But in a McCain-Obama faceoff, it is the Democrat who reaches outside the party.

    Take this latest Time poll of general election matchups, for example:

    • Obama 48%, McCain 41%
    • Clinton 46%, McCain 46%

    Why does Obama fare better than Clinton?

    The difference, says Mark Schulman, CEO of Abt SRBI, which conducted the poll for TIME, is that "independents tilt toward McCain when he is matched up against Clinton But they tilt toward Obama when he is matched up against the Illinois Senator." Independents, added Schulman, "are a key battleground."

    Conversely, according to that same Time poll, Democrats favor Clinton over Obama by 48% to 42%, a lead that is also reflected in the latest Gallup tracking survey. Will Democrats follow the Republicans' lead and nominate the candidate with the most potential to attract independent voters, or will they stick with a partisan with a lower "ceiling" of general election support?

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    Comments

    1. Kevin on Feb 8, 2008 12:59:04 PM:

      Chris: thanks for the plug - and I'll add this. Andrew isn't an American citizen so he can't vote nor is he a political party member. But he's a powerful voice among gay Republicans and independents. And I can also say that Rich Tafel is only the most prominent gay Republican to come out publicly for Obama. Considering the number of gay Republicans I've talked to, he's the tip of the iceberg.

      So the question for gay Democrats is very simple, much like the question for their religious right counterparts in the Republican Party. Do you want to preserve your selfish hack-o-rama at the expense of a victory in November and a hope for real progress in this great country?

      Time for answers.

    1. Stephen H. Miller on Feb 8, 2008 8:55:56 PM:

      I just don't get the swooning. Obama as Orator-in-Chief I could maybe go along with, but his voting record during his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate (and, before that, in the Illinois legislature) fully justifies his support by Ted Kennedy and MoveOn.org. He wants to unite left and right, black and white, gay and straight, blue and red, in order to...pass the same old stale, left-liberal bigger-government, more power to Washington agenda.

      I distrust charisma, especially when it's not accompanied by a record of leadership and competence. Count me out.

      My Independent Gay Forum colleague Bruce Bawer tells Why I Haven't Caught Obama Fever. Also worth reading is a clear-eyed Obama analysis by Fred Siegel in City Journal: "[W]hile he has few concrete achievements to his name, he does have a voting record that hardly suggests an ability to rise above Left and Right." Hardly, indeed, but man can he make the crowds swoon.

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