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Republicans — recognizing that social issues don’t win elections — are backing away from hot button topics like abortion, religion, birth control, gay marriage and other polarizing positions advocated by extreme wings of the party.
Instead the new focus is on jobs, jobs and — you guessed it — jobs.
Recent internal polls and focus groups have sent the party a message: the public doesn’t really give a damn about President Barack Obama’s position on gay marriage, doesn’t care about a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, doesn’t vote for a candidate because he or she is pro-life or pro-choice and so on.
The defining issue for Campaign 2012? Jobs.
So GOP leaders are backing away from the social issues that once defined the party. Their presumptive nominee — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — isn’t strong on key Republican social issues anyway and the real key to winning back the White House lies in convincing voters that the party has a plan to put people back to work.
Campaign strategists are suggesting a campaign based on economic issues, focusing primarily on jobs, while leaving the social issues to a political war that might or might not be fought later in another election year.
Writes Laurie Kellman of The Associated Press:
There is a growing sense among Republicans that, with Mitt Romney all but crowned as their presidential nominee, social issues generally are losers for the party at a time when the GOP is trying to appeal to swing voters. Through a searing primary season that erupted repeatedly over gender politics to the general election now under way, polls have consistently shown that voters remain most concerned about jobs and the economy.
Recent voter research offers support for the move away from the sort of “culture war” that conservative Patrick Buchanan called for from the podium of the Republican National Convention in 1992. Many Republicans viewed that approach as one that alienated moderates. Two decades later, as the candidates battle over that same voting bloc, polling suggests that social issues are a motivating factor for female voters — but not in the Republicans’ favor.
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