RICHMOND, Virginia — In state capitols all across the country, Republicans are coming to terms with a 2012 election in which social and cultural issues worked decisively against them. President Obama trounced Mitt Romney among women last fall, and controversial statements about rape cost the GOP two U.S. Senate seats. In what hardly seems a coincidental move, Republican state legislators in diverse places are focusing their attention on taxes and spending rather than abortion and gay marriage.
The change in tone is remarkable for its speed and scope, coming after two years in which a record number of abortion restrictions were enacted and same-sex marriage bans continued to spread.
Virginia is a good example. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell made his strategy clear in his opening address to the 2013 legislative session. McDonnell focused on transportation and education, and said he wanted to put behind him the divisive battles over social issues that marked 2012.
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