Heeding the journalistic adage to “follow the money,” the Washington Post has found that every one out of six of President Obama’s top fundraising “bundlers” who have hauled in $500,000 or more publicly identify themselves as gay.
The implications are clear: as Obama’s campaign continued to struggle to haul in large donations, his team needed to fire up his fundraising base by announcing this week’s “evolution” on gay marriage. Indeed, as the Washington Post notes, “some liberal gay donors had threatened to withhold contributions over Obama’s stance on gay marriage as well as his administration’s decision to shelve an executive order banning sexual-identity discrimination by federal contractors.”
But Mr. Obama’s flip-flop on same-sex marriage has, for the moment at least, stopped his slippage among big money gay donors. As Obama reelection bundler Jon Cooper conceded, the President’s new position on gay marriage will be a boon for fundraising, particularly for the one in six Obama campaign bundlers who come from the LGBT community:
I think that this statement by the president expressing his personal support for same-sex marriage is going to make my life immeasurably easier raising money from LGBT donors and progressives in general.
So far, the fundraising strategy appears to be working, as a “flood” of donations poured forth from gay and lesbian activists in the wake of Mr. Obama’s switch on gay marriage.
But as the Washington Post reports, other, more seasoned Democratic gay activists have seen through what appears to be a way to gin up lagging fundraising and enthusiasm among Mr. Obama’s base of LGBT supporters:
Richard Socarides, a prominent gay activist who was President Bill Clinton’s top adviser on LGBT issues, said Monday that Obama and his team are “boxed in” on the marriage issue.
“It’s a problem of their own making,” he said. “The president’s ‘evolving strategy’ could maybe work for them as a stopgap, but you can’t be evolving on a significant national policy issue for two years, especially in a presidential election. I don’t think it serves him well. Really, as a political matter, it’s too cute.”
The Daily Mail calls Obama’s change in position a “cynical cash grab that will cost him votes.” And still others have pointed out that those who naively met The President’s announcement with gleeful praise will ultimately be disappointed when they realize that the president’s carefully parsed statement actually changes nothing; it maintains the status quo by allowing states to decide.
In the end, the political maneuver to shore up dwindling big donor support among Mr. Obama’s base may create even more daunting political headaches for a president already lagging 7 points behind his GOP rival in the polls. In 2004, Mr. Obama said, “I’m a Christian. I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.” That means hitting Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper–a Democratic theme once thought viable–will be far more difficult.
Then there is the possible backlash in enthusiasm from African-American Christians who overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage.
But in politics, cash reigns king. And with 1 in 6 of Obama’s top fundraisers belonging to the LGBT community, something had to give so that Obama’s big money backers would do the same.