I don't believe the hype.
Yes, gay marriage is increasingly popular. To my own eyes, it's astoundingly popular, and I'm very happy that it's popular. Nearly 60 percent of Americans now support it. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on March 26-27 on a series of cases that will probably make it a lot easier for gay people to actually get married everywhere.
Nearly 8 in 10 Americans under 30 support gay marriage. Nearly every Republican I talk to supports it, too, which makes it hard for me to conceive of a world where the GOPers who are potentially available to vote in the party's primaries wouldn't support it. But they do not. And as I've written, I don't think they will for a while. I do not think that the party is structured to reward a modernizing socially moderate candidate. The same GOP establishment that admits it must change and is embracing technology wants Ron and Rand Paul out of their party. (And Rand isn't exactly a huge supporter of gay rights.) Sen. Rob Portman waited two years — after being vetted for the veep nomination — to come out as a supporter.
Rush Limbaugh calls these conservatives, particularly younger ones, "Manhattan bar scene conservatives." (And honey, I've met some interesting Republicans at Manhattan gay bars, although I don't think he and I mean the same thing.) On his show today, he had nothing original to say about the topic other than this: Freedom is not a license for hedonism. And darn it, younger conservatives had better realize it. That's silly. But then Rush pointed this out:
The second thing is, homosexual marriage. If the party makes that something official that they support, they're not gonna pull the homosexual activist voters away from the Democrat Party, but they are going to cause their base to stay home and throw their hands up in utter frustration. Now, whether they like it or not, the Republican Party's base is sufficiently large that they cannot do without them. And their problem is they don't like 'em. It really isn't any more complicated than that.
Rush is right. The GOP's problem is that its primary and caucus voting base is older than its new ideological entrepreneurs. The young Turks need to take over the party. But it is hard to figure out how they'll fashion a political coalition that allows for this until the old generation just dies off. The traditionalists still vote in the primaries and caucuses. Tea Partiers overlap more with libertarians on some issues than your generic non-Tea Party conservative might, but they're still social conservatives. Some conservatives understand this more than others. CPAC is not representative of the GOP or its base. Wish it were! But it's not.