Polls, on the issue of gay marriage, don’t seem to mean anything. On the very day that a Gallup poll found gay marriage to be a 50-50 issue nationally, voters in North Carolina joined voters in California and soundly rejected gay marriage. Put the issue to a vote and people break from the polls, and they break decisively. Whether the state is red, blue, or purple doesn’t seem to matter.
In the aftermath of North Carolina’s vote, this NewsObserver photo may reveal what Barack Obama and the Democrats fear the most.
Black churches overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage. Democrats use black churches and black pastors to spread their party’s message from pulpits every Sunday during election season. No one should be under any illusions that supporting gay marriage could cost Obama the black vote. It won’t. November will be about the economy, full stop. But it could cost him enough of the black vote to hurt him in November. It could erode support and enthusiasm for Democrats generally. That’s what Obama fears, and it’s part of the reason he did not want to be seen opposing Amendment 1 in North Carolina the day voters approved it. So Obama canceled his event in North Carolina today and dances his ludicrous dance on gay marriage. The only real evolution he is undergoing is tactical. His opinions have been set in stone since he was a sarong-wearing college kid doing crossword puzzles in his composite girlfriend’s apartment.
Opponents and proponents of Amendment 1 were roughly even on spending, with proponents spending a bit more. Turnout was heavy. The issue wasn’t flying under anyone’s radar. The amendment passed with a lot of room to spare. And it passed with the support of black church leaders, just as Prop 8 passed in California with the support of black and Hispanic voters and leaders.
Polling on gay marriage may be a bit like polling on Obama’s personal approval rating: Useless. People do not want to tell pollsters that they dislike Barack Obama personally, even though they really do, fearing that saying they dislike him will make them appear racist or mean. The truth is, he often comes off as an aloof know-it-all who either doesn’t know what he’s doing, or does know what he’s doing and is being intentionally destructive. He often comes off as dishonest, hypocritical, and a bit of a jerk. He’s a bore who never says anything interesting unless he’s talking basketball. It’s not hard to imagine him singing the old country song “Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble When You’re Perfect In Every Way” and mean it. But people don’t want to say that out loud, since we’re all supposed to pretend that he’s someone we’d like to hang out with whether we agree with his politics or not.
Likewise, people apparently will tell a pollster one thing about their view of gay marriage to appear tolerant or with the times, but when they’re alone in the voting booth, they think about the issue in a more serious way. They have not heard an affirmative convincing case for redefining marriage, because no such case has been made by those who support it. Mostly, gay marriage supporters try intimidating people into voting their way. North Carolina provides powerful evidence that that doesn’t work.