If you haven’t checked your calendar lately, there are exactly 418 days left in the Bush Presidency, and one of the most interesting and perhaps ground breaking elections is right around the corner.

While many American voters are split on perennial election issues such as the war in Iraq, abortion, education and immigration, next year’s election could offer up a whole new issue that ultimately decides who the next president of the United States will be.

With so many gay issues circulating Washington lately, it could just be that the gay vote is what sways the way the administration will be run.

The gay sex scandals, arguments over gay rights and gay marriage and the diverse demographic of the Democratic candidates are all issues that are slowly chipping away at the strong arm that the Republican party has held over politics for the past eight years.

Could it be that this time around the gays could take over Washington?

According to a CNN poll, almost 5% of the voters in the 2004 Presidential election identified themselves as gay.

That percentage was more than the Asian and Jewish populations and more than those who earned an income greater than $150,000 (£73,000) a year.

Although 5% may not seem like a huge number, those are just people who actually identified themselves as gay.

Of that figure, almost 85% voted Democrat.

In 2000, that percentage would have made the difference between Al Gore winning and you know who taking office, and the candidates this year know that.

For the first time, gay issues are being addressed ad nauseum by the Democratic candidates while Republican front runners have mostly remained silent on the issue, afraid to potentially upset the gay vote.

But the gay vote is not the only thing that could hamper a Republican repeat in the White House.

While many people feel that the war and the economy are the most important issues when voting for a new administration, the majority of voters actually felt that moral values was the number one concern when it came to voting time.

Almost 25% listed it as their top decision-making criteria when choosing who should be the next President, and an alarming 80% of those chose the moral values demonstrated by the Bush administration as more favourable.

Early this year, Senator Larry Craig from Idaho, a staunch opponent of gay marriage and gay rights, was arrested and charged for disorderly conduct with another man in an airport bathroom.

Although he still denies that he is gay or had any interest in the person he was with, he did plead guilty and stirred up a whirl wind of controversy.

Craig wisely decided to not run for re-election and removed himself as Senate liaison from Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign.

He was chastised by the GOP and was asked to leave office immediately by presidential candidate John McClain and Mississippi Senator Trent Lott.

Craig has yet to resign, stating that he needs to “continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee” while still in office.

I’m sure the proud people of Idaho are ecstatic that their Senator is spending his time in Washington trying to clear his name for a misdemeanour homosexual encounter rather than helping govern the country.

But that scandal was only the beginning of the turning of the moral compass.

As an example that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, Senator Trent Lott announced this month that he too would be resigning his position in the Senate in order to, according to the New York Times, “spend more time with his family.”

Though his real reason may not be known, many DC insiders have suggested Lott’s untimely resignation may have been to avoid a sex scandal with a male escort.

Benjamin Nicholas is the cute reddish blonde escort that is said to have had relations with the Senator.

Although he has responded “no comment” to inquires about the affair, blogger Big Head DC and publisher Larry Flynt, among others, have suggested that they have email and other records to prove that the two men did in fact have a relationship.

If that were true, it sure would seem like a great time to run for the hills.

Both men are no doubt trying to avoid the same fate as ultra conservative minister Ted Haggard, the former pastor of one of the most prolific church groups in the United States.

After years of preaching about the sin of homosexuality and how gay people were an abomination of God, Haggard found himself busted by male escort Mike Jones, who told police about their sexual relations and drug use.

The right wing crucified him and he was eventually ostracised from the church. A month later, after intense reconditioning training, Haggard told the press that he was cured and was now 100% heterosexual. Thank God.

So gay escorts hold the cards to uncovering a web of sexual “immorality” on the side of the conservative party and with those revelations, people may finally be starting to see that the moral majority isn’t exactly that moral and most likely, not the majority.

This year, more than ever, the gay vote can make a difference in the polls. And while the democratic candidates may have their numerous flaws, as Chris Rock so eloquently put it on Saturday Night Live!:

Why not have a black man or a white woman as President. I mean we already had a retarded one.”

Dylan Vox © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.