Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

Please Don't Say The Gay Marriage Issue Won It For Bush  | e-mail post

I've already heard from a couple of people trying to suggest that the "wedge issue" of same-sex marriage drove out the extreme religious right for Bush yesterday. A quick check of the numbers simply don't bear it out.

This is preliminary analysis, but doing the quick analysis of voting age population turnouts, we can get an idea of how true this sort of claim may be. For states with same-sex marriage ban amendments, here is how the voting age population turnout percentages changed in 2004 compared to 2000. (Data from Dave Leip's US Election Atlas)

North Dakota2.60%

This compares to a average state voting age population turnout loss of .90%, although if you throw out Alaska, California, Maine, Montana, and Washington state (all of which had double-digit declines because they were more or less uncontested and didn't have any big issues on their ballots), the average state had VAP turnout of .82% higher.

But, Ohio is skewing things terribly here. It's the only swing state on the list, other than arguably Arkansas, although I don't know how that was ever in question, as they only vote for Southern Democrats. Note that this is completely contrary to the rhetoric spewed forth during the campaign, that these state initiatives were some dark Rove conspiracy to put them in swing states. If you throw Ohio out of the mix, the remaining states had an average turnout gain of only .54%.

Compare this to the results of looking at the 13 swing states:

New Hampshire-2.70%
New Mexico-0.40%
West Virginia5.60%

As you can see, high turnout wasn't driven by a wedge issue, it was driven by a highly competitive race. So, please, in the name of intellectual honesty, people should not be blaming this "wedge issue" for the result.

BTW, did you notice that Missouri also had a much higher turnout: 5.60%. They had a gay marriage amendment too, it was on the ballot and passed, in September.

Some of the people making this claim on the web:

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Wednesday, November 03, 2004
You're absolutely right. For the next few weeks everyone's going to be scrambling around looking for "the reason," and most of what we'll get is scrambled eggs. Something as complex and absurd as a presidential election isn't decided by one or two factors.

(Personally, i think Kerry's teeth are too big. I mean, who'd want a beaver as president? But I'm sure that's only one factor. On the other hand, Bush looks like that snarling little brat in grade school who was always getting you into trouble. So maybe a beaver is better.)

It'll take weeks before we really understand how so many people could have been so deluded...or were we Kerry supporters deluded...at this point it's just the post-election blame game.
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