Will New Jersey Gay Decision Be a National Factor in the Midterm Elections?

In 1963, 63 percent of whites in a GSS study favored laws banning marriages between blacks and whites.

Ten years later, that was down to 37 percent. By 2002, 11 percent still clung to this view.

Whatever it means for social conventions in the future, the New Jersey ruling fits nicely into the political speculation of the day.

There's been talk lately of "values voters" -- by which we think people really mean either conservative Christians, or evangelical white Protestants -- being demotivated to vote this year.

Maybe, the line goes, concern about gay marriage will fire them up.

One problem with that scenario is that our own polling, at least, hasn't shown any demotivation in the first place.

Evangelical white Protestants account for 20 percent of likely voters in our latest ABC News/Washington Post survey, same as their share of the actual turnout in 2004.

They express as much enthusiasm as anyone else.

The other problem is that, since 11 gay-marriage initiatives didn't boost their turnout in 2006, it's hard to see why eight would this year.

But in an election year dominated thus far by the dark shadow of the war in Iraq, gay marriage meets the basic qualification for political prognostication: It's something new to talk about.

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