Analyzing the 2012 gay marriage vote

Since the election I’ve published several pieces analyzing the Question 6 vote in Maryland as well as voting patterns in Minnesota and Maine, where gay marriage was also on the ballot.

* In the November 30 Washington Post “Outlook” section, I argued that the pattern seen in many affluent, educated Maryland suburbs — same-sex marriage running stronger than did President Obama — was also found in Minnesota and Maine. This pattern indicates the presence in all three states of substantial numbers of Republican “ticket-splitters” who voted both for Mitt Romney and for (or, in Minnesota, at least not against) freedom to marry.

* On Dec. 13 at TheBlaze.com I published a piece proposing that the perennial hope of winning black and Hispanic votes by emphasizing social conservatism is the cargo cult of the Republican Party. In particular, I analyze precinct results from Prince George’s County and find that the most socially conservative black neighborhoods, as measured by resistance to Question 6, show no more willingness to vote for Republican candidates than neighborhoods that are more socially liberal in their leanings. Links/reactions: David Frum, Steve Miller. On the miserable results obtained by the Maryland GOP for its strategy this year of running hard on social conservatism, see this excellent post-mortem by Kevin Waterman.

* I discussed some of my findings on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” and in a Cato Institute podcast. Coverage appeared in various places including Box Turtle Bulletin, and a reprint in the Bangor Daily News.

* For my first two pieces on the Maryland results, published in the Huffington Post, follow this link.

For readers who would like to check my numbers, or simply investigate these questions further, here are some sources. Maryland precinct results for most counties are available at the election websites of the various counties: thus Prince George’s, Baltimore, Frederick, and so forth. To match polling places with neighborhoods, look for files with details on polling places (P.G., Baltimore, Frederick; map file for P.G.)

Minnesota data is here. On Maine, I worked with the convenient platform provided by the Bangor Daily News, but checked against state results here.

The Fox News exit polls I mention are here.

And some other resources: WP map, Maryland Republicans for Marriage Equality maps, city of Baltimore result map courtesy Sen. Bill Ferguson, more on exit polls.

– Walter Olson

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More election reactions

  • Must-read Chris Geidner article on how our side beat the other side’s scare ads by emphasizing commitment, love, home, and the unique bond between parents and children. These were familiar themes to us at Maryland for All Families and they were crucial in allaying the concerns of voters in the middle [BuzzFeed]
  • Tom Coale at HoCoRising has some much deserved praise for Dave Myers’ efforts within the Howard County GOP.
  • Theocon crowd at First Things mag fears the Wall Street Journal is slipping away from them on this issue, and they’re having a fit about it.
  • NOM was so ridiculously wrong in its political predictions. What else might it be wrong about? [Rob Tisinai, Box Turtle Bulletin]

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Digging further into the GOP vote for Question 6

I’ve now published a second piece in the Huffington Post on the Maryland Republican vote for Question 6, this time based on precinct-level analysis. (The first piece, based on county-level returns, is here.)

Briefly, there were many solidly Republican towns which voted for both Mitt Romney and for Question 6, sometimes with a landslide both ways, as with Hunt Valley north of Baltimore, which went only 37 percent for Obama and 65 percent for Question 6. Other examples I cite in the piece include Severna Park near Annapolis and New Market Middle east of Frederick (my own precinct). I could easily have given other instances, such as Catonsville, five of whose precincts went for Romney this year; four out of those five then proceeded to vote for Question 6, in one instance by 63 percent of its vote. Or Dayton in semi-rural Howard County (39 percent Obama, 53 percent for Question 6), among many others.

Fox News has also released its exit polls which indicates that Question 6 won 25 percent of self-described Republicans, 22 percent of self-described conservatives, 27 percent of those who felt Mitt Romney was “more in touch with people like you” compared with Barack Obama, and 36 percent of those who said that “Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals” was closer to their view than “Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.” (More from John Riley, MetroWeekly.)

Thanks for links and reactions to: Andrew Sullivan, Ken Mehlman in the WSJ, and on Twitter Steve Chapman, Chai Feldblum, Log Cabin Republicans, and Jimmy LaSalvia.

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From friends and foes, reactions

Reactions from various friends and foes to Tuesday’s victory (and a few political scraps from before):

  • “Gay marriage: Republicans should move on” [Jennifer Rubin, WaPo] “Time to Separate Conservatism from Religion — And Fast” [Jeremy Kolassa] “Why should we sign a suicide pact with the National Organization for Marriage?” Steve Schmidt on GOP prospects] Time to be the party of individual freedom once more [Joseph Curl]
  • Overwrought much? “It will soon be illegal to oppose same-sex marriage, even for Christians.” [Mark Judge, Daily Caller] Not very Republican of them: NOM’s “out there trying to spin Democrats taking control of New York state senate as some sort of face-saving win” [Slog] By contrast, the Southern Baptists’ Albert Mohler manages to avoid the delusion and the spin: “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.” [NYT]
  • At premier conservative blog Red Maryland, some contributors favored Question 6 including blogger Richard Vatz as well as well-known strategist Brian Griffiths;
  • Implications for the Maryland GOP: the petition strategy championed by Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) and famously anti-gay MD-GOP chairman Alex Mooney fell flat on its face [Richard Cross] Say good-night, Alex [Red Maryland]
  • Left-right alliances are powerful devices in pot-law reform. Why don’t we see them more on same-sex marriage? [Steve Miller, Independent Gay Forum, who also has kind praise for my work on the issue in Maryland] What comes next in the long advance of gay marriage? Gradualism, federalism and the free market, argues Jay Michaelson [Salon]
  • You know what kind of music we could hear playing last Tuesday? The “Schubert’s Finished” Symphony.

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New post: GOP supporters carried Question 6 to victory

The Huffington Post has just gone live with my piece on how surprising strength for Question 6 in Republican-leaning areas — such as Frederick and Anne Arundel Counties, both of which backed Romney but also voted for freedom to marry — made a difference in the results. Excerpt:

If ever a Republican county in Maryland deserved the label “rock-ribbed,” it would be Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore, which gave Mitt more than a two-to-one margin over Barack Obama, his best showing aside from the state’s far western Panhandle. Close behind would be affluent Queen Anne’s County across the Bay Bridge from Annapolis, which returned almost as good a showing for the former Massachusetts governor, and Harford and Cecil Counties northeast of Baltimore, which gave him still very impressive 3:2 margins over his Democratic opponent.

None of this group of counties went for Question 6: they’re simply too Republican, and support for same-sex marriage is distinctly a minority position among Republicans. What they did all do was to generate substantial swing votes in favor of gay marriage by voters who hadn’t gone for Obama. In Carroll, Question 6 ran a remarkable 11 points ahead of the president, in Queen Anne’s 10 points ahead, in Harford and Cecil 5 points, and in Frederick and Anne Arundel 3 to 4 points. Collectively these counties contributed tens of thousands more votes for Question 6 than if gay marriage had been, as you might put it, only as popular as the chief executive of the United States.

Read the whole thing here (& thanks for links to Andrew Sullivan, Don Boudreaux/Cafe Hayek, Maryland Juice, Adam Goodheart/Chestertown Spy, Steve Miller/Independent Gay Forum), Clarence Page/Chicago Tribune.

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Thank you, Maryland

We won yesterday by a 52-48 margin. This is truly a great day, and a historic one, marking the first time that any state has adopted same-sex marriage through a vote of its electorate. Making things all the grander, same-sex marriage appears to have had a clean sweep last night, winning in the Maine and Washington referenda as well as defeating the Minnesota constitutional amendment.

We’ll be back with some thoughts about how the campaign went and the abundant indications that Question 6 drew significant backing from conservative, Republican and (of course) libertarian Maryland voters. In the mean time, we’d like to thank some of those who were especially instrumental in outreach to these constituencies: Mike Estève, Steve Pippin, Chrys Kefalas, Joshua Wolf, Dave Myers, Kevin Waterman, Sen. Allan Kittleman, Dennis Hoffman, Katie Nash, Cory Stottlemyer, Chip DiPaula, Jessica Fugate, Casey Pick, R. Clarke Cooper, and David Lampo.

Question 6 carried the three counties that collectively represent the heartland of the Maryland conservative electorate. We carried suburban Baltimore County narrowly, and Anne Arundel County by a healthy margin. Most remarkably of all, we carried Frederick County, the county most identified with social conservatism as a force in the Maryland GOP. Among those, both conservative and not-so, who we want to thank specifically for their work in Frederick County are Amy Adler, Dennis Hoffman again, Rev. Barbara Kershner Daniel, and Steve Pippin and Katie and Cory again.

Thank you, Maryland!

– Walter Olson

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From Charles Murray on Twitter…

One of the nation’s premier conservative intellectuals has been thinking it through:

P.S. One reply, from Will Saletan:

“The gay couples I know behave as Rauch said they would.” That’s not giving up, @charlesmurray. It’s the conservative case for reform. Kudos

And from Jeff Peters of Annapolis, a social conservative posting on the Frederick County Republican Central Committee Facebook page:

Charles Murray is not “conservative” or an “intellectual.” I find that disturbing.

Thanks for clearing that up, Jeff.

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Vote for Question 6 today, 7 a.m.- 8 p.m.


Polling indicates an extremely close vote today on Question 6. Please vote as early in the day as you can, and remind your supportive friends, co-workers and neighbors of how important it is that they get to the polls and cast a vote FOR our freedom and equality under the law.

If you’d like some conversation fodder about Question 6 and same-sex marriage from a conservative/libertarian point of view, check out our issues links, and our list of right-of-center notables who support freedom to marry in Maryland and beyond. Let’s make history together today!

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In the news, November 4

  • Highlight of Sunday’s anti-6 rally in Frederick: Pastor Luke Robinson of Quinn Chapel AME Church says “God sent” hurricane to punish NYC Mayor Bloomberg and backers of gay marriage in places like Massachusetts. Way to make Frederick the laughingstock of the world, Pastor! Earlier here;
  • Don’t you just love shopping with friends? Nordstrom is just one of the great Maryland businesses that supports freedom to marry, along with PayPal, Nike, Calvert Investments and Engage LLC, and also Frederick’s favorite son chef Bryan Voltaggio. Johns Hopkins University president Ronald Daniels, in a Sun op-ed, endorsed Question 6, “noting that it would give Johns Hopkins a recruiting edge against many of its peers.” [JHU] Meanwhile, our adversaries at the National Organization for Marriage could not unreasonably be described as an anti-business group, constantly promoting boycotts of leading businesses like Starbucks and General Mills that are not socially conservative enough for their tastes and even trying to harm those companies internationally.
  • Good! Mailers now hitting postboxes with GOP-oriented Vote-For-6 themes (freedom, less government, concern for neighbors). Much appreciated.
  • Back in February, GOP political figure and former Ehrlich speechwriter Richard J. Cross III blogged these thoughts on our subject, very much worth reading;
  • Republicans this cycle are far less likely to be running against gay marriage, and in that you can hear the sound of social change [David Boaz (Cato), Huffington Post; Damon Root, Reason]

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Frederick GOP promotes “worship, praise” rally today for “God-ordained marriage”

[Note: for update about the preacher at the rally who said God sent Hurricane Sandy to punish same-sex marriage, scroll to end]

What were they thinking? Who was it that had such an unsure grasp of the distinction between church and state as to put the Frederick County Republican Party’s imprimatur on a flyer like this? Excerpt:

GET OUT THE VOTE !
Marriage Praise, Worship & Victory Celebration
(MARRIAGE = ONE MAN + ONE WOMAN)
Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3 PM
at the BAKER PARK—BAND SHELL
BRING YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY!! (121 North Bentz Street)

COME WORSHIP, PRAISE,
PRAY, AND CELEBRATE GOD- ORDAINED MARRIAGE

VOTE AGAINST QUESTION 6

Yes, this “worship, praise” event to entrench “God-ordained” concepts as law is an official calendar item for the county GOP, where it can be found above the words “By Authority of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee.”

The rally is today, in Frederick’s Baker Park. Among the featured speakers is the exceedingly controversial Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council. In 2010 Sprigg declared on national TV that he thought homosexual conduct ought to be outlawed and subjected to criminal sanctions:

Another speaker at today’s rally is Derek McCoy of the Maryland Marriage Alliance (MMA), a headliner at an Oct. 19 town hall meeting organized by MMA. At that meeting, Robert Anderson of Randallstown’s Colonial Baptist Church announced that both gays and those who support their cause were “worthy of death” and “deserving of death.” McCoy, sitting next to Anderson as a co-panelist as well as host, registered no objection and indeed refused to disavow the remarks later when pressed. At another MMA event last month, a participating minister said of gays,  “they’re after our children, they’re predators.”

Other county GOPs, including Howard and Prince George’s, have had the good sense to stay out of the Question 6 fray, leaving it to the conscience of individual party members. Some in Frederick’s party, by contrast, seem willing to run the risk of associating the party in the public mind with religious extremism of a sort guaranteed to alienate moderate voters.

Or, to return to the original question: what were they thinking?

P.S. Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Middletown) has vigorously promoted Sunday’s rally, perhaps not surprisingly.

Update: The above was written and posted before the rally took place. At the rally, Pastor Luke Robinson of Quinn Chapel AME Church said that “God sent” Hurricane Sandy to punish NYC Mayor Bloomberg and other Northeastern backers of gay marriage, an assertion likely to draw widespread press attention. MMA’s Derek McCoy, though listed as a speaker on the flyer, did not attend.

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