Gay Marriage and the MN Governor Race: The Game-Changer?
posted at 1:00 pm on September 24, 2010 by Mitch Berg
Gay Marriage isn’t the biggest issue to me, personally.
Oh, I believe “marriage” is about a guy and a gal and having kids, sure enough. I believe that marriage is something sanctioned by the God I believe in. I believe the religious reason is rooted in an evolutionary reason – children need both male and female parents to grow and develop as best they can (and, with that in mind, I’ll also say that I support gay adoption, in preference to single parenthood, if only because the stresses of single parenting are so very very intense). There is not a single significant religion in the world that sanctions same-sex marriage. Not that all of the world’s religions are internally unified on the idea of same-sex marriage, as with any other political issue.
You, naturally, don’t have to believe in my God, or believe in Him in the way I do, which is why our government separates church and state. And why I believe there’s a case to be made to allow single-sex couples to sign contracts with each other (and, for that matter, to allow any religious denomination to find some way to theologically justify it).
But while it’s not a big issue for me, personally – I’m here, I’m straight, and I’m not going away – it certainly is a defining issue for a lot of people, including quite a few that aren’t traditional Republicans.
Earlier this week, Archbishop Nienstedt, the top Catholic in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area, released a video – on Youtube, and on a DVD that is being mailed to Catholics throughout the region via the good graces of an “unnamed donor” – that pretty much laid down the ecclesiastical smack on single-sex marriage.
Now, Nienstedt is a social conservative, in contrast with his predecessor. His message is far from unexpected.
What is unexpected is the regional social left’s response to Nienstedt’s video. They are outraged.
It almost seems out of proportion to the video; after all, Nienstedt has been a social conservative all along; as such, among largely traditionally left-of-center Twin Cities Catholics, he’s been a known quantity since long before he became Archbishop.
No – they are outraged because same sex marriage, even in traditionally “purple” Minnesota, is not just a loser for the Dems; a new poll shows it’s a potential game-changer.
Lawrence Research carried out a poll three weeks ago, among 600 likely voters. The poll, by way of level-setting, discovered Minnesotans feel the state is on the wrong track by a 57-31 margin.
And, as befitted a poll taken in August, two weeks after the primary, as Tom Emmer’s campaign was just getting started, the initial poll result looked good for Mark Dayton, who pulled out to a 40-33 lead, with Horner drawing 14%.
Then, and only then, the pollsters brough same-sex marriage into the picture. The Minnesotans polled say “marriage” should be between a man and a woman by a 58-36 margin, with very few – 6% – undecided.
The sample also overwhelmingly believe that future legislation about the definition of marriage should be carried out by the voters, rather than the Legislature or the Federal courts (62%, 6% and 19% respectively, with 13% undecided).
Here’s where it got interesting. I’ll quote from the Lawrence poll:
5. Have you heard or read anything about efforts to have the state legislature legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota?
Yes, aware……………………………….. 51
No, unaware…………………………….. 49
Initially I was surprised the “Yes” was that low. Then I realized – the DFL and media (pardon the redundancy) have wanted to soft-pedal this news. After reflection, I’m surprised it’s that high.
Because I suspect they knew how this next question was going to break out:
6. Gubernatorial candidates Mark Dayton, DFL, and Tom Horner, Independence, both support same-sex marriage while Tom Emmer, Republican, believes that marriage should be preserved as only between a man and a woman. In light of this, if the election were held today, would you vote for … (ALTERNATE READING 1-2-3 AND 2-1-3)
Tom Emmer, Republican……………… 43
Mark Dayton, DFL……………………. 36
Tom Horner, Independence Party…. 11
Catch that? Among this sample, introducing the notion that the definition of marriage will be taken out of the peoples’ hands and given to the legislature or, worse, the courts causes a 14 points swing.
And the poll has ramifications down-ticket, in state legislative races, as well:
7. Let’s say you have decided to vote for a candidate for the state legislature because you agree with most of his or her positions on the issues. Then, let’s say you find out that your chosen candidate has the opposite position of yours on the marriage issue. Would you still vote for that candidate or would you switch and vote for someone who agrees with your position on the marriage issue?
Would still vote for original candidate………………….. 47
Would switch and vote for someone else……………… 38
[NO OPINION]…………………………………………….. 15
That means over a third of respondents would ditch a legislative candidate who favored legislating single-sex marriage from above (almost invariably DFLers).
Bear in mind, this poll was taken in a linear order. There’s a reason for this; it helps pollsters measure how ideas change peoples’ minds. The poll took one more look at the Governor race:
Looking ahead to November’s election for governor one more time …
8. If you knew that Mark Dayton and Tom Horner are opposed to letting the people vote on the same-sex marriage issue, and Tom Emmer favors letting the people vote on the same-sex marriage issue, would you then vote for … (ALTERNATE READING 1-2-3 AND 2-1-3)
Tom Emmer, Republican……………… 44
Mark Dayton, DFL……………………. 33
Tom Horner, Independence Party…. 11
Now, it’s only 600 voters. The margin of error is 4.1% either way.
But the overall impression – people want to decide the future of marriage themselves, even in “liberal”, “purple” Minnesota – is broad and unmistakeable.
And that’s why Nienstedt, his DVD, and his un-named mysterious donor are all public enemies-number-one for the regional left.
For my purposes, this election is about the economy, jobs and the role of government. But same sex marriage is a sleeping giant of an issue throughout this state.
Cross-posted at Shot In The Dark