Image pinched from Addictinginfo.
The 2012 election was extremely significant because it is the first time Democrats really threw their weight around on social issues, and they won. Gay marriage, Roe vs Wade (abortion) and such things have been historically bankable issues for Republicans, even as recently as 2004 when George W Bush's anti-gay marriage stance was vehement, and his campaign bashed John Kerry for not being.
This year Democrats went hell-for-leather on women's health and reproductive rights (including Planned Parenthood) and same-sex marriage (adopted in the Democrat manifesto for the first time).
This Democrat administration forced coverage of birth control in healthcare plans - in America the government forcing you to do something is, quite frankly, a huge fucking deal. The exemption for religious institutions notwithstanding, this was a big block on which to lay one's reproductive organ months before an election. And it worked. Planned Parenthood, a countrywide provider of women's health services (which include abortion) was used as a club by Republicans - and, amusingly, by The Onion - and it failed. The organisation was thoroughly backed by President Barack Obama who mentioned it specifically in adverts. And it came through the election with a fair endorsement from a majority of the electorate.
The lesson: Democrats kind of own this territory now. While a plurality of Americans still don't believe in the premise of abortion, they don't believe in outlawing it absolutely (even in Mississippi!). Same-sex marriage has a long way to go, but holds momentum - endorsed by the current government and three states. (A fourth state, Minnesota, voted down a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but during the election control of the state legislature was won by Democrats. Expect a gay marriage bill to raise its head during this congress.)
One would think it would be worth thinking about how to reframe this issues if one was on the losing side. But no. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer: