(USA) Does McCain have an advantage on gay marriage issue?
Posted: 08.04.2008 / 7:07 AM EDT
If there is a slow leftward trend with Americas cultural hot-button issues,one place it has yet to make a dent is on the question of same-sex marriage.
On questions about guns or abortion, there is arguably a political advantage for more liberal views and for Barack Obama in Patchwork Nations 11 different types of counties - particularly in places that figure to be the most closely contested in 2008.
On gay marriage, however, the advantage shifts to conservatives - fairly starkly. Most Americans oppose marriage between two men or two women.
The meaning of the numbers, taken from a 2004 Annenberg survey, is not completely clear in the context of the 2008 race - even as a looming California ballot initiative may push the issue into the campaign.
Both McCain and Obama have stated their opposition to same-sex marriage, but Obama has also tried to fashion a middle ground for himself.
For instance, while Obama says he opposes same-sex marriage, he has also said he opposes a constitutional ban on such unions and that he would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition ofsame-sex marriages. In addition, he has announced that he opposes a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that will be on the ballot in California in November.
In short, Obama has made a point of trying to appeal to gay, lesbian, and bisexual voters on the issue and with good reason. On the whole those voters tend to be a reliable Democratic constituency.
picture-1.pngThe depth of opposition to gay marriage, however, even in the county types that lean Democratic, might suggest the issue could yet give Obama trouble.
In Americas densely populated big city locales (Industrial Metropolis), counties that vote overwhelmingly Democratic, almost 45 percent of people surveyed strongly opposed a state law allowing gay marriage, according to the Annenberg poll. Another 10 percent are somewhat opposed to such a law, according to the survey.
Thats almost 55 percent total.
More than 52 percent of those polled in counties with large numbers of young voters (Campus & Careers) strongly opposed a law allowing gay marriage. And in counties with large African-American populations (MinorityCentral), places that went heavily for Obama in the primaries, the numbers strongly opposed to allowing gay marriage were even higher - more than 71 percent.
And in the three key battleground county types - wealthy suburban counties(Monied Burbs), growing and diversifying counties (Boom Towns), and counties with large numbers of service workers (Service Worker Centers) - more than 60 percent of those surveyed said they either strongly opposedor somewhat opposed laws allowing gay marriage.
While those numbers are from four years ago and attitudes may have shifted regarding the issue, most polls show public attitudes on gay marriage have been relatively stable in that time.
Looking at the figures you might expect to be hearing a lot about same-sexmarriage in the coming months from Senator McCain as it appears to bean issue with which he can win votes. But McCain has his challenges on theissue as well.
McCain told supporters recently he is in favor of Californias state constitutional ban, but in 2004, in the Senate, he voted against a federal constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage nationwide. And much of McCains election strategy has been based on portraying himself as a different, more centrist conservative than President Bush. The 2004 vote is just one issue that has raised eyebrows among social conservatives.
Earlier this summer, the Rev. James Dobson, a key leader among evangelical conservatives, told listeners to his radio show that he was disappointed in both McCain and Obama on the issue.
Reactions like that from the right probably mean that despite its potential as a campaign issue, both candidates may have an interest in keeping same-sex marriage a quiet sub-theme in 2008.
The study in that graph at the bottom is at least 4 years old. It was published in 2004, but we don't know what year the actual survey was done.
As time goes by, more and more are becoming in favor of gay marriages, but it's a painfully slow process. Even once the majority of people are in favor of gay marriage, we then need to get the politicians in favor of it.