But the potential for flare-ups is not limited to those states. In Iowa, for instance, another swing state that Obama is counting on, voters ousted three justices who had ruled a gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
Beyond swing-state sensitivities, Obama is also navigating cross-currents within his party. Social liberals and young people are pushing him to support gay marriage. But African-American voters, crucial to an Obama victory, are divided on the issue.
All this explains why the White House has struggled in recent days to define its position. Vice President Joe Biden made headlines Sunday when he expressed support for same-sex marriage, a statement the administration frantically walked back. Although Obama publicly opposed the Tar Heel state measure, his campaign was noticeably absent from weighing in on it. “They are tied in knots over this issue and looking pretty silly,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster.
Will Obama try to untie the knots, or leave them in a tangle for now? Either way, the North Carolina results underscore the price he and other Democrats could pay for their successes so far on the road toward gay marriage.
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