Category Archives: NC Politics

The marriage amendment on the front pages

The marriage amendment got a great deal of ink on the state’s front pages this morning.

Charlotte and Greensboro wrote about how churches are dealing with the issue.

Burlington and Hickory have primers on what the amendment means, along with its political background.

Reminder: The latest Elon University Poll results on the issue.

— John Robinson

North Carolina marriage amendment update

Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee, it appears that the hottest issue to be decided in the North Carolina primary next month is the marriage amendment. Elected boards are taking positions, rallies are being held, yard signs are popping up, and leaders are stating opposition or support.

The latest Elon University Poll results show that 61% of North Carolinians say they oppose an amendment that would prevent any same sex marriages, domestic partnerships or civil unions. The poll is of North Carolina residents, not likely voters. Other polls of likely voters indicate more support for the amendment itself.

Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, explains how the nation’s opinion of same-sex marriage has shifted in the past few years. Majorities of the millennial generation, who were a very small share of the electorate in 2004 when the gay marriage issue rallied the conservative base, have grown in number and have consistently favored. But also, many older Americans have changed their minds. Since 2004, support for gay marriage has increased from 30 percent to 40 percent among baby boomers, and even among seniors (from 18 percent to 32 percent). (On balance, though, most members of this generation remain opposed, at 56 percent.)

The biggest question may well be which side will show up on May 8. The lack of competitive GOP presidential or gubernatorial contests will dampen conservative turnout. On the Democratic side, the presidential ticket is decided, of course, but the gubernatorial nominee isn’t. But that race hasn’t generated much excitement yet. 

Opposition to the amendment is visible on the streets and in letters to the editor columns. Support seems to be centered in churches, but has been much quieter.

— John Robinson

Voter fraud and photo IDs

Today’s Rasmussen Reports survey shows that 64% of likely American voters think that voter fraud is at least a somewhat serious problem.

That fits with the Elon University Poll results released earlier this month in which 74% of North Carolina residents — not necessarily likely voters — said  they support the idea of a photo ID requirement before voting.

Is election fraud a serious problem in North Carolina? Not that anyone has shown. But my sense is that people don’t think there is any significant harm — or obstacle — in showing a photo ID, just in case.

— John Robinson

Same-sex marriage, state by state

As the debate over North Carolina’s marriage amendment heats up, here — thanks to the Los Angeles Times — is an interactive map that provides a  little perspective on where every state in the nation is on the same-sex marriage issue.

— John Robinson

Register to vote today

Today is the last day to register to vote in the North Carolina primary May 8. If you’ve never registered or have changed your name or address, go to the local board of elections office.

It’s worth the time. The ballot is crowded with issues – a constitutional amendment – and candidates from the office of the president of the United States and N.C. governor on down.

— John Robinson

Support for North Carolina public schools?

Are North Carolinians happy with their public schools? Depends on how you ask.

Earlier this month, the Civitas Institute, a conservative organization, released a poll that said “more than half (52 percent) of respondents rated North Carolina’s public school system as “Only fair” (37 percent) or “Poor” (15 percent).”

Today, N.C. Policy Watch, a progressive organization, released its Carolinas Watch poll that said that 48% of North Carolinians have a generally favorable impression of public schools vs. 34% unfavorable, and that 65% believe schools should get more funding.

For the record, last month’s Elon University Poll results show that most North Carolinians would support a temporary three-fourths of a cent sales tax to fund education 53% to 43%.

— John Robinson

Fracking: A rose by any other name

North Carolinians don’t know enough about fracking to have an opinion? Perhaps it is the term itself. That’s what a poll done by the LSU Public Policy Research Lab shows.

“Public aversion to the term likely results from the harsh consonants and perhaps the obvious similarity to a certain other four letter word,” said Michael Climek. “And this research shows that the unpleasant sound of the word is at least partially responsible for residents thinking ‘fracking’ is unsafe and that it should not be pursued by the state of Louisiana. If businesses and legislators use another word or description, constituents may be more willing to support hydraulic fracturing.”

The latest news on the marriage amendment

Less than a month before the May 8 primary and a vote on the “marriage amendment” and things are heating up. (A reminder: The Elon University Poll results show that 61% of North Carolinians say they oppose the amendment that would prevent any same sex marriages, domestic partnerships or civil unions.)

The Gaston County Board of Commissioners is expected to endorse the amendment this month.

Supporters rallied in Wilson last week.

Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat, wrote an op-ed in The Fayetteville Observer, yesterday against the amendment. The sad genesis of this amendment – only the second ever proposed to eliminate minority rights rather than expand them – was, quite simply, fear.

North Carolina colleges and universities are trying to figure out how to approach the issue. A referendum on the North Carolina ballot next month to ban gay marriages and civil unions has created an awkward position for colleges that condemn discrimination but can’t take public stances on political issues. Ten student senates have renounced the measure, as has the Faculty Senate at public Western Carolina University.

Nationally, supporters of same-sex marriage are squabbling over the focus – or lack of focus – in North Carolina. The polling in North Carolina shows that while a majority supports Amendment One, an overwhelming majority doesn’t support it when you tell them what it does. There are a lot of reasons why progressives and pro-equality voters will be going to vote on May 8. If you just look at North Carolina and think, ‘Oh it’s too southern,’ [well], North Carolina went blue for Barrack Obama in 2008. North Carolina is the only state without a constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage.] North Carolina is one of the only states in the south to have protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The thought that they’ll lose, it’s not quite right. There’s a big window of opportunity.

The Washington Post gives same-sex marriage a Western World tint, comparing and contrasting President Obama’s and Prime Minister David Cameron’s advocacy.

— John Robinson

Spreading the word on fracking

Last week, we published poll results that indicated that most North Carolinians don’t know enough about fracking to have an opinion on its worth. Here are two pieces of news just out that may inform them.

From The Atlantic: A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an “unprecedented” and “almost certainly manmade” increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That’s six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.

Some environmentalists are blaming fracking. But the Atlantic article notes: The USGS scientists aren’t willing to draw the causal connection between fracking and earthquakes. “While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production,” they conclude.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that Matt Damon is going to star in an anti-fracking movie called “The Promised Land.” Shooting is scheduled to start later this month.

The next step in North Carolina is expected next month when the General Assembly convenes for its short session. 

— John Robinson

Support for the voter photo ID law

Last year, the General Assembly passed a bill requiring voters show a photo ID before casting a ballot. Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the legislation, saying it would unfairly disenfranchise voters.

What do North Carolinians think? It’s not even close. Seventy-four percent  support the idea of a photo ID requirement before voting, according to the Elon University Poll. 

There’s a good chance it will come up again next month when the state legislature convenes for its short session. Some Republicans say they have the votes to overturn the governor’s veto.

Requiring a photo ID to vote is a major GOP initiative that has gathered steam across the country. So far this year, nine states have passed voter photo ID laws. Republicans assert that it ensures against voter fraud. Critics say it could hurt voter turnout, particularly among students, African-Americans and elderly people.

The Justice Department has challenged the laws in Texas and South Carolina using its powers under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to review changes to voting laws in states with a history of racial discrimination. Both states are suing the department.

From the Charlotte Observer: In North Carolina, more than 800,000 people statewide don’t have photo identification from the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a State Board of Elections and DMV analysis. More than a half-million North Carolinians – 556,513 – have no identification at all.

— John Robinson