The party’s social agenda, especially the same-sex marriage issue, doesn’t play well in the South and Midwest.
Since Mr. Obama’s high-profile election-year conversion to supporting gay marriage in May, he has been reticent about whether he wants the issue highlighted in the platform.
The president has sprinkled mentions of his newfound support when speaking to college students and more sympathetic audiences, but the White House has tried to deflect questions about whether Mr. Obama thinks the gay-marriage plank should have been included in the official party platform and if its addition might hurt Democratic candidates in more conservative swing states.
“The president’s position on this view has been well-chronicled, shall we say,” White House spokesman Joshua Earnest said in late July, referring questions to the Democratic National Committee.
A DNC representative subsequently declined to comment.
Republicans added an explicit ban on gay marriage and same-sex civil unions to their platform last week in Tampa, Fla., so the contrast between the two parties is stark.
On immigration, Democrats in 2008 vowed to do more to tackle border security.
This year, the party took a victory lap in its platform, proclaiming that “the Southwest border is more secure than at any time in the past 20 years.”
The platform also praises Mr. Obama for changing deportation priorities away from rank-and-file illegal immigrants to focus instead on those with long criminal records.
It contains a watered-down call to action on global warming. Whereas the 2008 document labeled climate change “the epochal, man-made threat to the planet” and vowed “never again” would the U.S. “sit on the sidelines,” this year’s version contains no bold promises — possibly a reflection on the constraints of holding the White House but failing to make progress.
On gun control, the Democrats’ platform dropped language that recognized regional differences on the issue and instead called for “an honest, open national conversation.” The party pledged to pursue legislation such as an assault weapons ban and extending background checks to all sellers at gun shows.
“I’m a strong supporter of the assault-weapons ban,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, told The Washington Times. “I think it’s horrible how we ship guns down to Mexico in exchange for drugs — it’s extremely detrimental to both countries.”