Liberal groups in Wisconsin are bracing for a fight over contraception coverage under Medicaid. Battle lines are being drawn over sex education in North Carolina. And conservatives in several states intend to try to limit the ability of private insurers to cover abortions.
Social issues barely rated in this year’s economy-centric midterm elections. More than six in 10 voters who cast ballots on Election Day cited the economic downturn as their top concern, according to exit polls. And this year was the first in more than a decade in which same-sex marriage did not appear on a statewide ballot.
But major GOP gains in state legislatures across the country – where policy on social issues is often set – left cultural conservatives newly empowered. Opponents of same-sex marriage, for instance, now see an opportunity to block or even reverse recent gains by gay rights advocates in Minnesota and New Hampshire.
The Tea Party was successful precisely because it ignored everything but economic issues; that allowed it to unite conservatives, libertarians, and independents. The behavior outlined by the story is suicide for Republicans.