We may be at a public opinion “tipping point” …
President Obama’s public endorsement of gay marriage hasn’t had any discernible effect on his approval rating or his head-to-head standing with Mitt Romney. And with Romney and most top Republicans largely content to leave the subject alone, it seems clear that the marriage issue will play a very minimal role in the national campaign, if any at all.
But a new PPP poll provides evidence that Obama’s announcement will play a major role in killing one of the most persistent talking points for opponents of gay marriage.
Maryland legalized same-sex marriage back in March, when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill passed by a Democratic Legislature. Opponents immediately mobilized to put a repeal referendum on this November’s ballot, and initial polling showed only a slight majority of voters favored upholding the law. But in the new survey, the margin has exploded to 20 points, 57 to 37 percent, a shift that PPP explains this way:
The movement over the last two months can be explained almost entirely by a major shift in opinion about same-sex marriage among black voters. Previously 56% said they would vote against the new law with only 39% planning to uphold it. Those numbers have now almost completely flipped, with 55% of African Americans planning to vote for the law and only 36% now opposed.
This is consistent with an ABC News/Washington Post poll of national voters this week, which showed support for marriage equality among African-Americans jumping from 41 to 59 percent in the wake of Obama’s announcement.
In Maryland, the surge in black support means that gay marriage is very likely to be approved by voters this fall. If that happens, opponents will no longer be able to make a claim they’ve been relying on for years – that everywhere gay marriage has been on the ballot, it’s been rejected by voters. Tony Perkins and Ken Blackwell, for instance, penned a column for Fox News earlier this week that made sure to note that “in the 32 states where voters have been allowed to express their views, all 32 have affirmed traditional marriage and rejected its same-sex redefinition.”
That will no longer be the case a few months from now, unless there’s some kind of major, hard-to-envision shift in public opinion in Maryland.
The rest of the article can be read online here.