Social Issues In the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Whither the social issues of yore?

In past elections, you couldn’t go two minutes without hearing about how this or that social issue was going to decide the election. Gays, abortion, welfare, crime – none of these are anywhere to be found in this year’s election cycle.

Is it that the economy has so overwhelmed the rest of the field? Or is it that Obama has deftly steered a course around or through these issues, leaving very little for the right wing to grab hold of? For a person who purportedly has the most liberal voting record in the Senate, that’s a remarkable accomplishment.

There may be something else in play: the relentless focus on “palling around with terrorists” among much of the conservative base. Could that be crowding out these other issues?

Are we to the point where, as Governor Dean said in 2004, the white guys in pickup trucks flying the Confederate flag are now going to vote their economic interest?

Or have the Republicans forgotten, Lacuna-like, how to conduct a traditional wedge issue campaign?

Any way you slice it, it’s a very interesting (and welcome) phenomenon.

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