In the lead-up to last night’s results out of North Carolina on Amendment One, there were two things to watch for: the percentage of the vote and the percentage of those voting. The results for the measure that etched discrimination into the Tar Heel State’s constitution by banning same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships show the gay community “losing forward.”
The percentage of the vote
Sixty-one percent of voters said yes to Amendment One. According to statistics compiled by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), that’s 6 percentage points below the average vote for constitutional amendments in the other 29 states that have them. That’s also 14 points below the average vote on the issue in Southern states.
The opposition to these amendments should be noted, too. The average “no” vote of the other 29 states was 33 percent. In North Carolina, it was 39 percent — a 6-point increase in the vote against discrimination.
The percentage of those voting
The HRC data show that the average percentage of voters approving constitutional amendments has dropped from 71 percent in 2004 to 57 percent in 2008. Of North Carolina’s 6.3 million registered voters, 34.37 percent of them cast ballots. Amendment One passed with just 21 percent of the state’s registered vote.
So, despite the loss, the arrows are going in the right direction.
But lying to pollsters hasn’t changed. In fact, Patrick Egan of New York University practically predicted last night’s results in a 2010 study of ballot measures on the legal status of same-sex couples.
[S]urvey data consistently underestimate voter opposition to legal recognition of same-sex couples. The share of voters in pre-election surveys saying they will vote to ban same-sex marriage is typically seven percentage points lower than the actual vote on election day. By contrast, survey estimates of the proportion of voters intending to vote against same-sex marriage bans tend to be relatively accurate predictors of the ultimate share of “no” votes.
The last Public Policy Polling survey before yesterday’s vote showed 55 percent in favor of Amendment One and 39 percent opposing. Again, Amendment One passed 61 to 39.