McCain and Obama Largely Avoid Abortion, Gay Marriage

Social issues are largely out of the spotlight in the presidential election

Some groups want to make abortion and other social issues important this cycle.

Some groups want to make abortion and other social issues important this cycle.

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Even after the expected advertising deluge begins, though, most analysts aren't sure social issues will resonate as much as they did in 2004, when exit polls famously found "moral values" to be many voters' top priority. "It's one thing to talk about issues like gay marriage or abortion when there aren't other pressing problems facing Americans," says Schaffner. "But when the economy's bad, people stop caring about issues like that and start worrying about where the next paycheck's coming from." The culture war may not be over, but so far, anyway, the real battles in this election are being fought in a different theater.