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    November 08, 2006

    Voter confusion in Virginia?

    Posted by: Chris

    Curious data from the exit poll conducted Tuesday by Edison/Mitofsky for a pool of major mainstream media outlets.


    A majority of voters in Virginia supported either marriage or "a legal partnership similar to, but not called, marriage" for gay couples. A total of 52% backed one or the other, with 23% for marriage and 29% for civil unions. Only 47% wanted no legal recognition at all for gay couples.

    So why did 53% of them vote the other way, in support of, the Marshall-Newman Amendment, which wrote into the state's constitution a ban on not only marriage and civil unions, but all forms of domestic partnerships and perhaps even private contracts between gay and straight unmarried couples? It just proves the power of the "M" word, which must have convinced enough voters to support the amendment even though they thought it went too far.

    Other nuggets from the national exit poll, which included precious little gay-related info: 3% of voters nationwide self-identified as gay or lesbian. Democrats won the vast majority of the "out" gay vote — since a certain percentage of gay voters won't self-identity to pollsters— by a margin of 75 to 24 percent. That's pretty consistent with past elections, including the 2004 race, when one-quarter of gay voters backed President Bush's re-election.

    It is striking, however, that the party split of gay vote seems immune to moves by either party on gay issues or otherwise, unless the stances taken in total have the coincidental effect of resulting in the same split each time.

    The only other gay issue polled for the MSM pool was in Tennessee, which also had a gay marriage ban on the ballot. The exit poll there tracked much more closely with the ballot measure results, though the ban and the poll question were limited to marriage and did not address civil unions or other forms of recognition.

    Haroldford787453_1 The Tennessee exit poll showed 85% opposed gay marriage, while 15% supported it; the ballot measure passed 81 to 17%. The exit poll also asked for Tennesseans' views on mixed-race marriage, probably because of the controversial ad run by Republicans featuring a white Playboy bunny whispering, "Call me, Harold," to black Democratic candidate Harold Ford, Jr.

    Not surprisingly, mixed-race marriage is more accepted in the Volunteer state than gay marriage, but is still backed by only 70% of voters. Also not surprisingly, the vast majority of voters who approve of gay marriage voted for Ford, and the vast majority opposed went for Corker — even though Ford made a point of reminding voters he opposes gay marriage and supports federal and state constitutional amendments to ban it.



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    1. Alan on Nov 8, 2006 8:14:06 PM:

      Knowing the anti-gay marriage initiative would pass by a huge margin in Tennessee I wouldn't be surprised to find out that gay Tennesseans stayed home knowing their vote would not change the result. Certainly a sanctimonius, homophobic Democrat like Harold Ford was not attractive enough to bring them to the polls - where 3% of the vote WOULD have changed that result.

    1. Jim on Nov 8, 2006 11:52:18 PM:

      As a Pennsylvanian I felt great delight in voting out Santorum. As I pulled the lever against him I knew how Van Helsing must have felt driving the stake into Dracula. " Die demon never to rise again!" I believe he said.

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