Friday, October 31, 2008

Strong Support for California Anti-Gay Measure Proves That Many Blue-State Voters Embrace Red Agendas

The prestigious Field Poll has released polling data which reveal that support for Proposition 8, which would amend the California constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, has grown substantially since the summer. According to the latest poll, 44% of voters support the measure; 49% oppose it; and 7% are undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5%, which basically makes the contest a dead heat.

The closeness of the vote on Proposition 8 differs dramatically from the state's presidential contest. A Field Poll released earlier this week gives Obama a whopping 22-point lead over McCain in California. This enormous advantage for Obama, however, has not translated into similar success for opponents of Proposition 8, despite the fact that the Democratic presidential candidate himself opposes the measure.

In an earlier blog post, I argued that Democrats who believe that a November Democratic Sweep would represent a dramatic shift in the nation's political ideology are deluding themselves. In addition to the quality and skillfulness of Democratic candidates, the party's success stems, in large part, from GOP exhaustion, the declining economy, the poor state of the war, and the historically low approval ratings for President Bush. The fact that California, a pretty safe state for liberal candidates, might pass an anti-gay constitutional amendment demonstrates that social conservatism remains attractive for a significant portion of the electorate, even though many of those same voters support Obama's candidacy. For more on this subject, see: "Split Ticket? What California's Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage Means for U.S. Liberals."

My fellow Democrats need to discard their mistaken belief that a seismic shift in the nation's general ideology has occurred. With all of the irrational exuberance safely behind them, they can use their immense talents to develop strategies to persuade a center-right American public to embrace center-left political agendas. The steamroller approach that some Democrats now advocate (see, e.g., HuffingtonPost essay urging Democrats to ignore the GOP and my pointed response) will only invite a serious electoral backlash -- just as the GOP's excesses during the last 8 years have now created.


Bob Vanderet said...

What it proves is that, like racism, homophobia will take time to wane. But the changes in public attitudes toward acceptance of our gay brothers and sisters has already changed dramatically and will continue to do so.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Of course societal attitudes towards glbt people have evolved over time. But some of the arguments I have heard lately imply or even proclaim that social conservatism is dead. That's dangerous. As a gay person, I think that shows a gross lack of appreciation for the existence of homophobia. If California can pass this law, imagine what people in the heartland are experiencing. Often, coastal liberals like to view their experiences as universal.

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