Voters' shifting priorities on traditional values could prove tricky for Republican hopefuls with an eye on the White House in 2016, The Washington Post reports.
"It's going to be a difficult balancing act going forward, between a [Republican] base that demands purity on social issues and a larger public that increasingly thinks government shouldn't be in the values business," Post political blogger Aaron Blake writes.
According to a 2004 CNN/Opinion Research poll after the election of President George W. Bush, 55 percent of Americans said their government should promote "traditional values" in American society, while 41 percent wanted the government not to "favor any set of values.," The Post reports.
In 2014, the numbers had flipped.
A CNN/ORC survey released last month
showed a new high of 55 percent of voters want the government to be values-neutral, while 41 percent want the government to back traditional values.
"If you want a window into the GOP's social-issues dilemma going forward, this is it," Blake writes.
For example, he writes, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – who opposed gay marriage as the state's executive and now says
marriage should be defined by each state – earlier this week called for "respect" of the state's lifting of a gay marriage ban.
"We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law," he said, USA Today reported
earlier this week.
"I hope that we can also show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty."
Bush, Blake writes, may have found a a way to navigate the shifting-priorities dilemma, "saying … what other Republicans (who aren't big on social issues) would love to be able to say, but are worried about losing the base."
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