Six states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, but Maryland could become the first to do so by referendum. Interestingly, Maryland has the highest percentage of African Americans (31 percent) of any state outside the Deep South, and social conservatism disposes many African Americans against redefining marriage. In May, when 61 percent of North Carolinians voted against same-sex marriage, Hertford County, which is 60 percent African American, voted 70 percent against. If Maryland endorses gay marriage, this will call into question the necessity, and hence the wisdom, of a litigation strategy rather than a democratic-persuasion strategy for advancing gay rights. The abortion debate became embittered when the Supreme Court’s judicial fiat with Roe v. Wade (1973) truncated democratic deliberations that, in the previous five years, had liberalized abortion laws in 16 states with 41 percent of the nation’s population.

Prohibition watch: Colorado, Oregon and Washington, which are among the 17 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana, are voting on legalization for recreational use.

Finally, when Maine used to elect members of Congress in September, the saying was, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” Then in 1936, when President Franklin Roosevelt beat Alf Landon in 46 of 48 states, the joke was, “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.” Tuesday evening the saying could be “As Maine’s Second Congressional District goes, so goes the presidency.”