I’ve seen two polls on this and both of them were bad news for Davis. Yesterday Rasmussen asked people if an elected official should be able to a ignore a federal court ruling that he or she disagrees with for religious reasons and got a 26/66 split. I can’t see the crosstabs there but it sounds like they offered that as a binary choice, with no middle-ground option of accommodating Davis’s objection by taking her name off the marriage licenses. Then again, if you follow Huckabee-an logic on this matter, Davis doesn’t need to be accommodated because the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell is illegitimate and non-binding until the Kentucky legislature passes a law ratifying it, so the false choices work both ways in this debate. What pollsters are after here is finding out, in a strict either/or situation, whether a sincere religious objection by a public official to the new marriage regime should warrant punishment for noncompliance and, if so, how stiff that punishment should be. Should it involve jail time if the official defies a court order?
Yup, according to YouGov. On the threshold question of whether Davis should issue marriage licenses to gay couples even if it violates her beliefs, the public splits 54/32 with a heavy Democratic majority of 70/17 driving the topline result. Interestingly, though, Republicans tilt only mildly in Davis’s favor, with 46 percent saying she shouldn’t need to comply and 40 percent saying she should. Whether that 46 percent has an accommodation in mind, a la using Kentucky’s RFRA law to remove Davis’s name from the marriage licenses, or whether they want her to have some broader right to refuse is unclear. But when you ask people what Davis should do now that she’s vowed not to issue any marriage licenses so long as gay marriage is legal, fully 60 percent of Republicans think she should resign. Just six percent say she should remain in office and refuse to issue licenses, although 26 percent are okay with her staying in office and refusing to issue licenses to gay couples specifically. (Majorities in every demographic tested think Davis should resign rather than block licenses from being issued.)
Should she get jail time, though, for defying the court’s order to issue licenses? She sure should:
Even GOPers split evenly on that question. Overall 56 percent of those surveyed support jail time for violating the order versus 31 percent who don’t. When you refine the question to ask whether Davis should remain in jail until she agrees to comply with the order, though, the numbers change:
You can see the left-wing drift towards treating dissent on gay marriage as a thoughtcrime there. Licenses are now being issued to gay couples by Davis’s deputies; one of her deputies told NBC today that he’d continue to issue licenses even if she attempts to stop him. There’s no reason to keep her locked up to force compliance with the order since the order’s being complied with. But Democrats apparently would keep her in the clink until she’s renounced her error and accepted the truth, the light, and the way of the new marriage regime. YouGov should have asked a follow-up imagining her in jail for a year or two to see how many Democrats would be onboard with that.
One fascinating footnote in the crosstabs: Can you guess the demographic that consistently sides with Davis more than any other? It’s not Republicans. Here are the results by race when you ask the basic question of whether she should be required to issue licenses despite her religious objections.
Hmmmm. Same demographics on the question of whether Davis deserves jail for refusing to comply with the court’s order:
Hmmmm. Blacks are also much less likely to support jail time for refusing to follow court orders as a general rule, with just 39 percent in favor versus 65 percent of whites and 62 percent of Latinos, and less likely to say public officials should be required to perform work that violates their religious beliefs, with 36 percent supporting the idea versus 56 percent of whites and 46 percent of Latinos. The growing conflict between religious liberty and gay rights might in time create space for Republicans to grow their take of the black vote. Won’t happen overnight, but here’s proof that the Democratic coalition isn’t as lockstep on gay marriage as it likes to portray itself as being. They’d better be careful about taking socially conservative black opinion for granted, especially once it’s someone beside the first black president trying to sell them on the new orthodoxy.
On that same note, one more important data point: A clear majority of 53 percent, including 53 percent of blacks and 58 percent of Latinos, believes that the right of religious liberty is under threat. Among Democrats generally … just 33 percent say so, compared to 81 percent of Republicans. Keep your eye on that Democratic/minority divide going forward.