GAY RIGHTS….The headline on this AP story says “Gay Remarks Don’t Hurt Santorum,” but that’s not true. Yes, his approval rating stayed steady at 55%, but here’s the real poll result:

However, Santorum’s remarks may have turned some undecided voters against him. His disapproval rating rose from 20 percent in April to 33 percent in May while the proportion of undecided voters fell by a similar amount, from 24 percent to 12 percent.

Gay rights is a great wedge issue for Democrats in a presidential election because it leaves Bush with two choices:

  • Support gay rights and lose the social conservatives.

  • Oppose it and lose the independents.

I think Bush would be forced to do the second, and take a look at what happened to Santorum when he did this: he lost 12 points of support from undecideds. That’s huge. It may or may not hurt Santorum, but in a close national election the difference between victory and defeat can be as little as a 2-3% swing in the independent vote. This issue has the potential to deliver that.

The key is to prevent Bush from getting away with his usual wishy washy statements on this subject and force him to take a stand on a specific issue. How about it, Dr. Dean?

UPDATE: Of course, you never know: Bush might decide to support gay rights if he’s forced to make a choice. Here’s what Family Research Council president Ken Connor has to say about that in NRO today:

Let me be clear: FRC never threatened anybody. We did, however, warn the White House that the GOP drift on marriage and such aspects of the gay agenda such as domestic partner benefits, hate crimes, and such, could cause some social-conservative voters to stay home.

Keep it coming, boys, keep it coming. You’re cute when you get mad.