Suburban Romney voters supported marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

November 30th, 2012

Walter Olson of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute took a look at the voting results from this month and found something interesting: marriage equality passed in three states – and a ban was defeated in one – in part due to suburban Romney voters.

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.

And it wasn’t just an odd quirk. Consistently, in all four states, a significant number of suburban Republicans went to the polls and voted for Mitt Romney and marriage equality.

This isn’t to say that Republicans supported marriage equality as a whole or that Democrats did not. Rather, it says that enough Republicans in suburban counties went against their party – exit polls suggested 20 to 25 percent – to make up for those rural conservative Democrats who voted to oppose our marriage rights.

It turns out that in 2012, demographics drove the marriage vote in significant ways. While party registration and presidential selection may have influenced most personal votes, the culture of the community voters live in had tremendous impact on Republicans (and to some extent Democrats).

One quick way to look for towns where Republicans were especially likely to approve same-sex marriage is to consult the state-by-state Yahoo.com “Best Places to Live” series, which highlights communities with high incomes, high education levels and low rates of property crime. The list of “Best Places to Live in Minnesota” is dominated by outlying Twin Cities suburbs, most of which tilt strongly GOP: Sixteen of the 20 supported Romney — six of them by 60 percent or more. But only one town among the 20 voted to ban same-sex marriage, and by an anemic 50.28 percent (had nine voters there switched sides, the outcome would have been different).

This sort of information is valuable in that causes us to nuance our thinking and opens possibilities that we might have been otherwise quick to dismiss.

Sam

December 1st, 2012

This reminds me of my best friend from college who lives in Minnesota. He’s a conservative in many ways but he also supports marriage equality. I saw him for dinner after the election and he made the comment (and I’m paraphrasing) that other than voting No on the marriage amendment, every candidate and every other issue that he voted for, lost.

Needless to say, he was happy to join me in a toast to the defeat of the marriage amendment but disappointed that Democrats gained control of the legislature and the voter ID lost.

tim

December 1st, 2012

As far as I know almost every member of my extended family voted against the marriage amendment. Not because they necessarily because they believe in gay marriage (most of them don’t) – its because they believe in live and let live.

As Sam said – most of them were ticked off that the GOP lost the legislature. But considering how terrible the GOP did running it for two years – that shouldn’t come as no surprise to anyone that happened.

Lucrece

December 1st, 2012

Let them marry, so long as we can keep hoarding fortunes at the expense of many of those who are not wealthy (gay male households actually fare worse economically than straight male ones).You have to wonder if marriage equality, despite being the right thing to do, came at any financial expense, whether they’d still support it.

It’s all about keeping their record low taxes.

Neon Genesis

December 2nd, 2012

A Cato Institute painting a minority of Republicans (28%?) supporting same sex marriage as proof that it only passed because of Republicans? Yeah, nothing biased about the Cato Institute. I mean, the Cato Institute has to be pretty desperate to paint one whole Republican town voting for same sex marriage as some sort of victory for the GOP.

TampaZeke

December 2nd, 2012

The League of One-Horned Horses claims that Marriage Equality won because of the Unicorn vote even though less than 30% of Unicorns actually voted for it.

John

December 4th, 2012

The Cato Institute is not “libertarian-leaning” it is explicitly libertarian.

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