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Who’s the Extremist?

Obama’s radical position on social issues.

Sep 3, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 47 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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The press would much rather focus on the issue of banning abortion in the case of rape​—​an issue on which three-quarters of the electorate is pro-choice​—​than on any of the abortion questions that would hurt the president. But there’s a big difference between banning abortion in the case of rape, a policy Romney does not support and that has no chance of becoming U.S. law, and permitting late-term and taxpayer-funded abortions​—​existing laws that President Obama actively supports.

The Romney campaign’s silence on abortion stands in contrast to successful Republican presidential campaigns of the past. Although the Iraq war and the economy were front-and-center in  2004, John Kerry ran TV ads warning that another Bush term would lead to the end of Roe v. Wade, and the Bush campaign hit Kerry with ads about the Massachusetts senator’s support for partial-birth abortion. According to the exit poll, 22 percent of voters in 2004 cited “moral values” as their most important issue, and these voters broke 80 percent to 18 percent in Bush’s favor. Those voters haven’t disappeared in eight short years.

A significant number of working-class voters are leery of big business and changes to Medicare, but they might vote for Romney because of social issues. The Pew Research Center calls these socially conservative, economically liberal voters “disaffecteds.” They supported John McCain over Barack Obama by a 16-point margin in 2008—and that margin swelled to a 38-point advantage for Republicans over Democrats in 2010, helping to account for the GOP’s landslide that year.

Romney also needs to improve his margin among Latino voters in states like Colorado, and Latinos are more socially conservative than the electorate at large. Even many pro-choice suburban women, the primary population the Romney campaign seems to think of when it imagines “swing voters,” are not supportive of Obama’s radical positions on social issues. But don’t expect many voters to find out about Obama’s out-of-the mainstream views if Republicans and the Romney campaign don’t talk about them.

John McCormack is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

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