Why the same-sex marriage ban may pass

Given the polling results, it might appear that the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions will get swatted into the cheap seats to use a basketball analogy during ACC Tournament time.

Not so fast. There are a few reasons that the amendment may win the day. And I’ll outline them in a moment. But first, here is a taste of the national sentiment on this issue.

Same sex marriage legislation is a hot topic around the nation. It is expected to be on the ballot this year in five states. It even has implications in the presidential election.

In California: A Field Poll revealed that 59 percent of California registered voters support same-sex marriage — the highest level of support ever recorded during 35 years of surveying issue in the state.

In Maryland: A new poll commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality shows 52 percent of respondents would “probably” or “definitely” vote for the same-sex marriage bill if it is on the ballot in November. The survey showed that 44 percent would “probably” or “definitely” vote the measure down.

In New Jersey: Most New Jerseyans support gay marriage, but they also believe the issue should be put to a referendum, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

In I0wa: A majority of Iowans oppose passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.

Back in North Carolina, if the race for the Republican nomination is still on in May — and it could well be — then expect a heavy GOP turnout at the polls. Given that more Republicans support the amendment, their turnout may overpower the more liberal opposition to the amendment. It may well be up to amendment opponents to energize their supporters to actually get to the polls. (I suspect they know that already.)

If the 18-35 year-old voters don’t turn out in sizable numbers — they tend to have weaker turnout than older voters — then that will further weaken the opposition.

Be ready for a full-court press ad campaign from both camps.

The Elon Poll survey North Carolina residents, without making a distinction of whether people say they are likely to vote. While I doubt it skews the results in a measurable way because the opposition is strong, it could.

Update: N.C. Policy Watch points out another good reason. The language of that amendment takes the hard line: it would ban all state recognition of same sex couples permanently – whether it’s called “marriage,” “civil union,” or something else.

If this truth is made clear to voters, the amendment will almost certainly fail as voters will quickly view it as too extreme. If, however, voters are allowed to approach the vote as (incorrectly) a simple “up or down” referendum on what they think of same sex “marriage,” it has a strong chance of passage.

— John Robinson

4 responses to “Why the same-sex marriage ban may pass

  1. Surely it has occurred to you that the reason you keep getting these results on the amendment -which are wildly different from the figures PPP and Civitas produce- is that you ask the question in an unusual way rather than use the actual ballot language?

  2. Steven Morris

    The problem with the Elon Poll is that it does not ask about the actual language that will be on the ballot. Every other pollster than has done this shows the amendment passing by 20+ points.

    The question the Elon Poll asks is designed to elicit a particular response and is therefore untrustworthy.

    I used to attend Elon and wish that the polling there would be done more accurately, since it will reflect poorly on the Elon Poll when the amendment passes overwhelmingly on May 8.

    The question you ask should be: “Would you vote for or against a constitutional amendment which would provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only legal domestic union that shall be valid or recognized in this state?”

    If you did that, you would find the accurate level of support, probably around 60%.

    • Thanks. Our intent has always been to sample the opinion of all North Carolinians on issues of the day. The questions clearly elicit opinions on same-sex marriage and civil unions. We believe it reflects North Carolinians opinions on those issues accurately. It isn’t intended to determine whether the amendment would pass.

      It is interesting, though, that when asked specifically about same-sex marriage, people’s opinions are dramtically different than asked the way the amendment words it.

  3. Pingback: Republican Ted Olson Going to North Carolina to Help Fight Antigay Amendment One

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