Next week, the Supreme Court is set to hear cases that may result in a Constitutional right to gay marriage. And now comes a new Washington Post/ABC News poll that underscores in fresh detail just how dramatic the cultural shift on this issue has been.
The poll finds that an astonishing 61 percent of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry; only 35 percent oppose it. That’s a record high in Post polling.
But the more interesting finding may be this one: An equally large majority — 61 percent — opposes allowing individual states to prohibit same sex marriages. And 62 percent support requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
What’s more, a surprisingly high 45 percent of Republicans also oppose allowing individual state bans; 52 percent support it, showing a real split. Among conservatives, those numbers are 43-53 — also surprising.
The lead question the Court will consider is whether the Constitution requires a state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many observers expect the Justices to factor in the question of how stiff any public backlash might be if they answer that question in the affirmative. Polling such as the above suggests it might be muted.
But the new polling also raises another possibility. With a bare majority of Republicans and conservatives still in favor of allowing states to ban gay marriage, there are still plainly major constituencies out there that might be receptive to a message of continued resistance to the cultural shift now underway. (Some leading conservatives continue to advance colorful new arguments against gay marriage, such as the idea that it could lead to nearly 900,000 additional abortions in the next generation.)
Given that those constituencies hold outsized sway in the coming GOP presidential primaries, candidates like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal might be sorely tempted to keep up the fight in the event of a Court ruling for marriage equality. And indeed, they are battling in particular for the votes of evangelicals and religious conservatives. How would the debate among Republicans unfold at that point?
* SCRUTINY OF CLINTON FOUNDATION DONATIONS INTENSIFIES: The New York Times reports that Hillary Clinton’s state department was one of a number of agencies that signed off on a deal transferring control of a uranium-mining company from a Canadian to a Russian company, even as the Canadian company’s chairman — and others with ties to the company — made a series of donations to the Clinton Foundation.
The Clinton camp maintains that many agencies, and the Canadian government, signed off on the deal, and the story acknowledges that it is “unknown” whether there was any connection. Here’s one nugget that will certainly draw more intense scrutiny: “Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.”
* ‘CLINTON CASH’ AUTHOR TO TARGET JEB BUSH NEXT: Joshua Green scoops that Peter Schweizer — who has a forthcoming book on Clinton finances, from which the above revelations were taken — will also be investigating the finances of Jeb Bush. That will make it a whole lot harder for Clinton’s team to argue that his book is a partisan hit job on her.
* CLINTON CHARITIES WILL REFILE TAX RETURNS: Reuters reports:
Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors….The charities’ errors generally take the form of under-reporting or over-reporting, by millions of dollars, donations from foreign governments, or in other instances omitting to break out government donations entirely when reporting revenue.
The story does note that these errors are “not evidence of wrongdoing,” but suggests that they will feed Republican efforts to make the argument that Clinton has been “vulnerable to undo influence.”
* MARCO-MENTUM RUNS AMOK!!! A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Marco Rubio has edged into a small lead among national Republicans: He has 15 percent, to 13 percent for Jeb Bush and 11 percent for Scott Walker. The rest have less than nine percent.
Rubio just got some media attention for his roll-out. What this probably shows is that these little polling boomlets don’t mean much this early — both Walker and Jeb have held national leads — though they could matter in the behind-the-scenes battle for elite support.
* TRADE DEAL FACES ANOTHER TEST TODAY: The proposal to give the President “fast track” authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal faces another test as the House Ways and Means Committee votes on it today. With some Democrats offering an alternative that would require tougher conditions on other participating countries, this will help gauge how deep opposition runs to the deal — and the process — among Democrats in the House, which is thought to be deeper than in the Senate.
The fast track proposal will all but certainly clear committee today, but down the line, House Democrats could still become a real obstacle to one of Obama’s main legacy items.
* AND HILLARY CAN’T RUN FROM TRADE DEBATE FOREVER: Politico reports that a number of leading Democratic Senators and Representatives are urging Hillary Clinton to take a position on the TPP trade deal already.
Clinton has made nice noises about how the deal must protect workers. But she still hasn’t taken a position on the process, i.e., the “fast track” bill that would diminish Congress’ role in the final outcome. She will have to sooner or later. One hopes, anyway.