President Barack Obama's recent announcement that he supports gay marriage provided a major bump for his campaign. [Read: Obama: I support gay marriage.]
The president earned $15 million alone Thursday at a Hollywood fundraiser hosted by movie star George Clooney.
Obama told his star-studded audience that his decision to support gay marriage "was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be."
But Obama's choice to come out in support of gay marriage could have unintended consequences for moderate Democrats facing re-election in conservative districts.
"I think this has hurt their chances of getting a majority in the house," says Larry Sabato, the director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "They figured if they could win up the score for Obama, they would do whatever it is to get him elected. They operated on the basis of their own interest."
One of the Democratic candidates certain to get caught up in the gay marriage debacle is North Carolina Rep. Mike McIntyre, who serves the state's conservative seventh district. The congressman, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, voted against the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2010 and has stated he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
"I don't think McIntyre was going to win before this, but now he is especially likely to lose," Sabato says. "It made it more difficult. It is an additional burden. This is helping to extinguish the blue dog class."
With North Carolina hosting the 2012 Democratic Convention and shaping up to be a key battleground state, Obama will certainly be a frequent visitor, making it even more difficult for McIntyre to distance himself from the president. [See political cartoons on same-sex marriage.]
Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, another Blue Dog Democrat who believes marriage is between a man and a woman, is running for a newly created seat in the state. Matheson was barely leading in a Salt Lake Tribune poll in April. The Congressman is running in a state almost guaranteed to go for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in November.
Sabato says candidates' vocal opposition of gay marriage isn't likely to be enough to keep voters from lumping moderate Democrats in with Obama.
"They can actually use this to show how they are different than Obama, but it is really tough," Sabato says. "In this polarized era, voters punish anybody and everybody that has the same party label."
Steve Israel, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sees it differently.
"I don't think its that relevant," Israel said during a breakfast with reporters Thursday. "I am a big believer that each candidate has to run their own race. We've told our candidates if you agree with the president state your agreement, if you disagree with the president, state your disagreement. And it is just that simple."