Nov. 6, 2008
In yesterday's Washington Update I wrote about how the exit polling from November 4 clearly shows that the marriage amendments are non-partisan. In 2004 and to a lesser degree in 2006 supporters of various marriage amendments were accused of using them for partisan purposes to help the Republican Party. There is no question that certain Republican candidates, including President Bush who campaigned in support of the amendments, were aided by the amendments' presence on the ballot. The benefit to the candidates was in proportion to their alignment with the amendments, not with their party allegiance.
President Bush increased his support among African-American voters in Ohio going from 11% nationally to 16% in the Buckeye State, enough to give him the edge in that battleground state and secure a second term. Those gains among minority voters evaporated in this election even though these voters continued to vote to protect marriage from redefinition.
One could argue that the marriage amendments may have actually hurt Republicans in this cycle, especially John McCain. Literally millions of dollars were invested in the efforts to protect marriage in California and Arizona. Thousands of volunteer hours were spent in those two states and Florida to secure passage of these amendments. The McCain campaign was virtually silent on the amendments and as a result received little benefit from the efforts, which was especially significant in the battleground state of Florida.
It is quite possible that a large portion of the time, energy and resources that were spent in this election cycle to protect marriage would have been invested elsewhere had the federal marriage amendment been approved by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2005. The irony is that Sen. McCain opposed the marriage amendment and joined the Democrats and a handful of Republicans in blocking a vote on the amendment. On Election Day the protect marriage movement ran ahead of the Republican candidates.