Gay Marriage Ruling Could Galvanize GOP, But Not Enough To Clinch White House

U.S. Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage could galvanize rank-and-file Republicans to vote in the 2016 presidential elections, but that won't be enough for the Republican Party (GOP) to clinch the White House as it needs to reach out beyond its base.

The Supreme Court made history last month in a landmark ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 U.S. states, reflecting an overall leftward shift in the U.S. but roiling many conservative Republicans and their leaders, such as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

While the high court's decision will galvanize rank-and-file conservative Republicans, the GOP cannot depend on its traditional voters -- typically older, white men -- to win the election, and as such it needs to do more to reach out beyond its base, experts said.

"We may not look as diverse as the Democrats but in terms of ideology, we're far more diverse than the Democrats are," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

"So that could create an advantage with independent voters, who may not see eye to eye with some wings of the party but may identify with others," O'Connell said. "While Independents are leaning slightly toward Democrats on social issues, (Independents) are in total disagreement with (Democrats) on economic issues."

The GOP is not likely to dump its own conservative values, but the more socially conservative side of the party is going to have to realize that they can't be divided in the elections against what they consider the establishment portion of the party, because they're going to need each other to win, O'Connell said.

"They're going to have to be more unified when it comes to winning elections for the rest of the Republicans," he said.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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