Photo: Courtesy of the Republican National Committee
Looking for a reason Barack Obama’s views on gay marriage are still “evolving,” even when he wrote on a 1996 survey that he would favour legalizing same-sex marriages?North Carolina is Exhibit A. It’s a swing state. Obama would love to carry it and its 15 electoral votes again in the 2012 election. And oh by the way, it’s about to pass a bill on Tuesday that would ban both gay marriages and civil unions.
Public Policy Polling has been tracking public opinion leading up to the vote of Amendment 1 on Tuesday, and they have found that it’s likely to pass easily, despite a brief wave of momentum a couple weeks ago against the bill. And despite President Bill Clinton’s robocall in North Carolina against the amendment.
PPP found that the supporters of Amendment 1 outnumber the dissenters by 55 per cent to 39 per cent — pretty much the same as two weeks ago, when it was 55 to 41.
This still goes against what most North Carolinians believe. Though most are fundamentally opposed to gay marriage (57 per cent), 53 per cent of those polled actually support either gay marriage or civil unions. The problem is a lack of understanding: North Carolina doesn’t realise that it is voting to ban both.
“It happens sometimes on ballot amendments,” said Jim Williams, a polling analyst at PPP, which is based in Raleigh, N.C. Only 46 per cent of North Carolinians correctly believe that the amendment bans both gay marriages AND civil unions.
“This is the first ballot of this kind in North Carolina, and I think Republicans in the state legislature knew exactly what they were doing when they worded it. They worded the language to sound pretty harmless, one that gives the impression that it’s only related to banning gay marriage when, in fact, it goes much further than that.”
Photo: Public Policy Polling
Now back to Obama and what’s becoming an increasing issue for him ever since Vice President Joe Biden publicly expressed support for gay marriage, saying he was “comfortable” with it. Then today, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined the ranks with Biden. And the White House press corps turned the issue into a public spectacle with Press Secretary Jay Carney this afternoon.
Take a look at these numbers, and you’ll see why Obama is hesitant to offer explicit support of gay marriage. North Carolina in itself is a crucial swing state, and breaking down the crucial voting blocs he needs to carry the state, it’s even more of a reason why Obama will not shift positions before the election.
Photo: Public Policy Polling
Among African-American voters, 51 per cent are still against any legal form of recognition of a gay couple’s relationship. Now let’s break it down: In 2008, Obama won North Carolina by fewer than 14,000 votes. According to the exit polls, 23 per cent of those voters were African-American — 10 per cent more than the national poll. And of that demographic, 95 per cent of the votes went to Obama.
In a state that could shift on a few thousand votes, there’s no room to make a major shift on what’s still a very divisive issue in that crucial state.
“The truth is that Barack Obama very narrowly carried North Carolina in 2008,” Williams said. “The Obama campaign would love to carry North Carolina again, and I think they have a real chance to do so.”
He added: “He would probably not want to do anything that would probably be seen as very controversial in North Carolina.”
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