My theme lately has been that the Republican party has abandoned its libertarian factions and message. Nothing shows this more clearly than the Bush administration's call for a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit homosexuals from marrying each other. Bush and his supporters are fond of claiming that they - more than their political opponents - represent true American values. But what do the poll numbers say? To find out, I checked out pollingreport.com (see link to the right for the homepage). They have a number of polls on this issue.
The latest Annenberg (U Penn) poll on the issue shows the country more or less evenly split on the Constitutional amendment idea with 48% opposing and 43% supporting. A poll based on the combined results of one Republican and one Democratic polling organization show 51% supporting an amendment and 44% opposed. OK, so between 40% and 50% of the country agrees with Bush. Good news for Bush, right?
Perhaps not. Things get complicated when you start asking the really big question: "Who cares?" The short answer is "about a third of country." Here is the long answer:
A CBS poll of registered voters asked people if they would or would not vote for a candidate who disagreed with them on the Gay marriage issue. Overall 56% of registered voters said that they WOULD vote for candidate who disagreed with them on the issue compared to 35% who would not. Among Republicans, 46% would vote for someone who disagreed with them and 44% would not. Among Democrats, 57% would vote for someone who disagreed with them and 35% would not. Among the all important independent voters, 64% would vote for someone who disagreed with them and 27% would not. The same poll also asked whether registered voters thought Gay marriage should be an issue in the 2004 Presidential election. 70% said NO.
So why is Bush making an issue of this? Independents don't seem to be sensitive to the issue. Democratic candidates seem capable of getting away with not taking a clear position (57% of Democrats will vote for a candidate who disagrees with them). And an overwhelming majority of American voters just want the issue to go away. What does Bush gain from all this? I think its not about what he would gain but rather what he would lose. 44% of Republicans say they would not vote for a candidate that disagrees with them on the Gay marriage issue. The majority of Republicans support a total ban on gay marriage. I think its fair to assume that the 44% for whom this issue is so important are part of the evangelical conservative movement. So Bush has to take their position or risk the same fate of his father when evangelical conservatives stay home. Of course, I also believe Bush is sincere in his homophobia on this issue.
I also suspect that Bush is counting on the distraction effect. Every day the media cover the Gay marriage issue as the top story is a day when anemic job situations, high gas prices or casualties in Iraq don't get covered.
Monday, July 12, 2004
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 2:31 PM