With the election approaching rapidly, undecided voters must hone in on the issues most important to them. For some, that paramount issue might be gay rights. Political science professor Geoffrey Layman said gay issues have played a limited role in this year’s election, despite major developments in gay and lesbian rights recently. “Like all other issues, they have been dwarfed in importance by the economy,” he said. These issues have also been sidelined due to Republican hesitation to broach a topic that would likely benefit the Democrats more than their own party, Layman said. “Public support for same-sex marriage and for gay and lesbian rights more generally has been increasing rapidly,” he said. “These things are very unpopular among the activist base of the GOP, but are much more popular among the undecided voters on whom general election campaigns focus.” Further, Layman said the limited space in the public mind for moral issues has been occupied by topics besides gay rights. “The controversies over President Obama’s health care program and especially the HHS mandate have brought abortion and reproductive issues once again to the forefront,” he said. Layman said the limited focus on gay issues in this election is similar to the 2008 election. Then, as now, the election was dominated by economic crisis. But in the 2004 election, Layman said the issue of gay rights was a crucial topic that was addressed frequently. “Same-sex marriage was more important for the 2004 election because key battleground states – Ohio in particular – had same-sex ballot initiatives and those affected the turnout of supporters and opponents of those initiatives in the presidential election,” Layman said. Although several states had same-sex initiatives on the ballot in 2008, Layman said they did not largely impact the election because they were not battleground states. Despite the increased prevalence of gay issues in today’s culture, Layman said he does not believe they typically have a large impact on an individual’s vote. “To the extent that people consider issues at all, they base their voting decisions far more on economic issues than on cultural and moral issues like gay rights, same-sex marriage and abortion,” he said. He did acknowledge these issues play a large role in determining the votes of certain groups of people. “For example, gay and lesbian voters themselves and the traditionalist Christian voters who are staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage and other advances in gay and lesbian rights,” Layman said. Layman said it is difficult to determine for certain whether homosexual citizens tend to ally with a particular party due to the small number of self-identified gay and lesbian voters in national sample surveys. “However, the existing evidence suggests that gay and lesbian voters lean strongly toward the Democratic Party,” he said.
6 Petr Cech: Chelsea and still one of the best in the business – Cech was dumped as first-choice Chelsea goalkeeper at the start of the season to make way for Thibaut Courtois. The 32-year-old is a reliable goalie and has been linked with a loan move to Anfield, with the Reds not considered title rivals to Jose Mourinho’s high-flying Blues. For the second successive game, Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was dropped in favour of Brad Jones.The Reds’ first choice goalie has endured endless criticism this season, with former Liverpool keeper Chris Kirkland telling talkSPORT it’s up to Mignolet to reclaim his place.“Brad’s been patient, as all number twos have to be, and the only way you [are given a start] is through injury or loss of form and Brad’s got the gloves now.”Here, talkSPORT looks at the candidates being lined up as replacement’s for the Belgium international. 6 Norberto Neto: Fiorentina ace who could be a bargain – Neto’s contract expires at the end of the season, meaning Liverpool could sign him on the cheap in January or pick him up for free in the summer. Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle said: I hope that [Neto] wont abandon us, but the situation doesnt look good to me. Juventus and Roma have been linked with transfers, but the 25-year-old Brazilian claims he does not want to join a Serie A rival, paving the way for a move to Anfield. Sergio Romero: Sampdoria and a World Cup finalist – Romero caught the eye during the summer after starring for Argentina at the World Cup and it is thought his agent Mino Raiola, who also represents Mario Balotelli, is working on pushing something through. The 27-year-old has been at Sampdoria since 2011 and was rumoured to have rejected Man United in the summer. 6 Mattia Perin: Genoa and Italy’s rising star – Click the arrow to see other replacements for Mignolet – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is rumoured to be chasing a replacement for under-fire goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, so talkSPORT looks at the possible candidates beginning with Genoa and Italy’s rising star. Speed, agility, a great shot stopper Perin appears to have all the necessary attributes to succeed Gianluigi Buffon, as some fans believe he will, in Italy’s goal. Liverpool are thought to have sent scouts to look at the 22-year-old, however, Perin’s agent said the player could be staying put until the end of the season at least. That is unless somebody came with an undeniably good offer, then he would leave, Matteo Roggi said. 6 Guillermo Ochoa: Malaga and a Mexico World Cup star – Ochoa’s stock soared during the 2014 World Cup where highlights included a man of the match display against Brazil. He pulled off an extraordinary save from Neymar’s goal-bound header in the group stage match and there are even rumours Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign the 29-year-old for £3m from Malaga with the Mexico international playing second fiddle to Carlos Kameni in Spain. Asmir Begovic: Stoke and a proven Premier League goalkeeper – Stoke keeper Begovic has spoken of his desire to test himself at the highest level in the future and a £10m price tag has been banded about for the player, whose contract expires in 2016. Begovic was a Liverpool target in 2013, but after a move failed to materialise, Mignolet was signed. 6 6