Thursday, May 24, 2012

Strongly in favor

Polls that gauge voter or citizen opinion frequently have as possible answers: "strongly in favor," "in favor," "opposed," and "strongly opposed." Many times the percentages for both kinds of agreement and opposition are lumped together to show a general trend. Watchers of ballot proposals know those that answer "strongly" are the ones most likely to get themselves out on election day.

All that is why a new polls out is very good news. There are now more with strong support (39%) for marriage equality than strong opposition (32%). Along with that, 71% now say they have an acquaintance, friend, or family member who is gay, up from 59% 1998. That's important because knowing someone gay means higher support for marriage equality. Other polls show Obama's endorsement of gay marriage had no fallout. His numbers are slightly up.

Yet another poll, this time of opinions in Maryland about repealing its new marriage equality law. In just a couple months support for marriage equality has jumped by 5%. That difference can be almost entirely explained by black voters going from 56% opposed to 55% in favor. Wow! This is enough of a shift that a vote on marriage equality will likely approve it. If so it will (1) bust the idea that black people are anti-gay and (2) spoil the 0-32 record the anti-gay crowd loves to crow about.

That, of course, leads to the question: Why?

Greg Sargent in The Plum Line in the Washington Post proposes an answer: Black people don't care about the issue (or most issues) all that much. They do identify with a team and want to align their answers with those of the team. And in those two months Obama has declared he is in favor of marriage equality.
So it’s not exactly that Obama influenced black opinions, would be my guess. It’s that African American voters who really don’t care very much one way or another about the marriage issue — but do consider themselves on Team Democrat — are now aware that marriage equality is the normal position of that team.
Note that Sargent says he is guessing here.

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