A Cultural Sea Change: Analysis of National Post-Election Survey and State Exit Surveys on Marriage Equality
The following article is cross-posted from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner e-blast:
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, has released the results and analysis of a poll conducted by GQR that shows a new, pro-marriage equality voting bloc is having a significant impact on elections and ballot initiatives across America.
Leading into the 2012 election cycle, marriage equality advocates lost 29 straight marriage equality referenda in a row, discounting the temporary win in Arizona. And yet, we went four for four on November 6th, bringing the total number of states that enjoy marriage equality to nine plus the District of Columbia. An analysis of HRC's national post-election survey as well as state-level exit polling suggests several dynamics contributed to what is definitively a cultural sea change in this country.
To be sure, there was an energized progressive base in 2012. Barack Obama won in large measure because he garnered large margins among younger voters, people of color, unmarried women and, as we shall see, LGBT voters, enough to compensate for losing Independent voters by 6 points. Marriage equality prevailed in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington and Maine, in part, by rolling up huge margins among these same voters. Moreover, nationally, progressives attached much greater importance to the broader issue of gay rights than conservatives, a huge shift from prior election cycles.
This election also signals broader, cultural change in our country that foreshadow future success. HRC's national post-election survey, like so many other recent public surveys, shows majority support for marriage equality (50 percent favor, 39 percent oppose) and a higher margin (+11) for marriage than for the President (+2). At the state level, support for equality in Maine grew among conservative leaning groups, in Maryland, support was solid among African Americans, and in Washington, a near majority of Independents favored marriage equality up from 33 percent in 2009.
In short, the tide has turned. What was considered extreme is now mainstream. Conservatives no longer have incentive to put marriage referenda on the ballot to goose right-wing turnout or make "the protection of marriage" a core theme in their campaign. It is no accident that Romney remained quiet on this issue after securing the nomination. Moreover, American voters reelected Obama knowing full well his stance on marriage, without any negative blowback. This is not to say, of course, that future challenges do not remain, but the time for playing defense is over.
Read HRC's Press Release, "Marriage Voters" Take Center Stage in 2012 Votes."