After years of defeats, same-sex-marriage advocates scored a remarkable 4-0 sweep of state ballot contests on Nov. 6. One major reason: This year, significant numbers of Republicans voted their way. That should give pause to a GOP establishment that has alienated many younger voters and independents with its stance on the issue and now faces the prospect of dissent among its core constituents as well.
The evidence comes straight from a close study of the election returns in Maryland, Maine and Minnesota. (Washington state, with its unique system of mail voting, has been slower to report its results in detail. I’ve based my analysis on the other three states that had same-sex-marriage contests.)
Let’s break it down.
The Maryland ballot referendum, Question 6, essentially asked voters to confirm or reject a new law allowing same-sex marriage. In 11 of the 18 counties that Mitt Romney carried, Question 6 fared better than President Obama, a sign that GOP voters had crossed over in support. While the phenomenon could be seen everywhere from farm towns to blue-collar inner suburbs, the biggest swings tended to come in affluent bedroom communities. At one precinct in Hunt Valley, north of Baltimore, with 2,116 votes cast, there was a 28 percentage-point swing, leading to a landslide for Romney and the ballot question: Obama drew a paltry 37 percent, but Question 6 carried the precinct with a whopping 65 percent.