For Democratic presidential candidates, today's Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality is unqualified great news -- Hillary Clinton and her rivals can celebrate without reservation, knowing that their party's base sees today as a breakthrough for American civil rights.
For Republicans, it's just a little more complicated. MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin had a good piece on this today.
Republican presidential hopefuls responded to the Supreme Court's historic same-sex marriage decision Friday with a mix of tepid disapproval and fiery condemnation, reflecting the party's deep unease with an issue where public opinion tilted decisively toward equality well before the law had caught up.
Consider Jeb Bush's measure tone, for example. "I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision," the Florida Republican said in a statement. "I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments."
It's not exactly Scalia-esque.
And it's easy to understand why. On the one hand, GOP presidential candidates realize that much of their party's right-wing base -- including the religious right movement, which is powerful in early nominating states like Iowa -- sees today's decision as a genuine travesty. On the other hand, the American mainstream has already embraced marriage equality, and Republicans who plan to compete nationally have to be careful about alienating a general-election audience.
It's a dynamic that leads to some caution. Literally every GOP candidate criticized the high court's decision, and nearly everyone in the field stressed "religious" liberty, which must have done well in focus groups.
But from there, two camps emerged, divided by strategies over what happens next.