I have been reading a lot of messages in the conservative blogosphere where a credible effort is brewing, attempting to prove that the gay marriage issue did not have a lot to do with Bush winning the election.
Personally, I believe that it played a HUGE role.
On February 15, 2000, then Governor Bush had this exchange in the South Carolina Republican candidate debates with questioner Larry King:
| BUSH: I'm going to appoint conservative people in the Cabinet. It's none of my business what somebody's -- now when somebody makes it my business, like on gay marriage, I'm going to stand up and say I don't support gay marriage. I support marriage between men and women.|
KING: So if a state were voting on gay marriage, you would suggest to that state not to approve it?
BUSH: The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in this state's issue like you're trying to get me into.
KING: You just did. You have an opinion.
I believe that President Bush's advisers saw the value in galvanizing the conservative, Christian base of the Republican Party by putting a lot of focus on this issue. No more "let the states do what they want" attitude. Instead, Bush came out in support of a FEDERAL ban... with specific words in the CONSTITUTION. A far cry from let the states "do what they want."
So, this morning, I decided to do some internet research on the subject. Look at the states that had the gay marriage issue on the ballot. Would it confirm or deny my suspicions that the gay marriage ballot measures were a part of the successful, Republican strategy?
The following states had the gay marriage issue on their ballots:
Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.
The "Swing" States
Then, I searched for a formal list of alleged "swing states." I decided to use any list that I could find on a notoriously conservative Republican site. I found this one:
Election 2000 vs. Election 2004
Then, I looked at the state results for those states where the gay marriage issue was on the ballot, including alleged "non-swing states."
OREGON: 52-48 (Kerry)
2000: 47-47 (Tie)
MICHIGAN: 51-48 (Kerry)
2000: 51-47 (Gore)
OHIO: 51-49 (Bush)
2000: 50-36 (Bush)
ARKANSAS: 54-45 (Bush)
2000: 51-45 (Bush)
MISSISSIPPI: 60-40 (Bush)
2000: 57-42 (Bush)
MONTANA: 59-39 (Bush)
2000: 58-34 (Bush)
NORTH DAKOTA: 63-36 (Bush)
2000: 61-33 (Bush)
UTAH: 71-27 (Bush)
2000: 67-26 (Bush)
GEORGIA: 58-41 (Bush)
2000: 55-43 (Bush)
KENTUCKY: 60-40 (Bush)
2000: 57-41 (Bush)
OKLAHOMA: 66-34 (Bush)
2000: 60-38 (Bush)
source: http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results and http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004
Four swing states were included out of the eleven states where gay marriage was on the ballot. I don't believe that this was an accident.
Missouri and Louisiana
Missouri was also listed as a swing state on freerepublic.com. In August of this year, there was a statewide vote for a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. It passed a resounding 71%-29%.
I believe that this and a similarly successful ban in Louisiana, earlier this year were used as a barometer for the Republican party. Both Missouri and Louisiana allowed the RNC to see just how successful gay marriage ban measures would likely be.
The election results in Missouri for the President were 54%-46% in favor of Bush. In 2000, Bush also won... with a margin of 51%-47%. In 2004, he picked up 3%.
| Missouri's referendum was the first opportunity for voters anywhere in the country to take a stand on the issue since Massachusetts began allowing same-sex couples to marry in May. More surprising than the margin of passage, which had been predicted by opinion polls, was the turnout of about 1.5 million voters, or 400,000 more than expected for a primary election.|
Seth Kilbourn, the Human Rights Campaign's national field director, said he believed that most of the additional voters were opponents of gay marriage who went to the polls solely because of the issue. "We were out-organized by the competition, which was able to do a lot of organizing with very little resources. They activated the churches in a way that was very successful," Kilbourn said.
Similarly, Bush also made gains in Louisiana in 2004. Bush won Louisiana 57%-42%, compared to 53%-45% in 2000.
What were the Results of the Gay Marriage Ban Vote in the Eleven states?
|The closest race came in Oregon, where gay rights groups concentrated much of their effort and money and thought they had the best chance of winning. Opponents of the amendment raised about $2.8 million, enough to run TV and radio ads in the Beaver State and outspend pro-amendment forces, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.|
Yet, in the end, the amendment passed by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.
In the remaining states, the amendments passed with 60 percent of the vote or more, with the margin at a whopping 86 percent in Mississippi.
What this shows is that the gay marriage ban issue was used as a way to keep notoriously conservative, Republican states like Utah, Mississippi, and Kentucky under the Christian, conservative blanket.
It was a way to try and skew an expectedly liberal state like Oregon in a conservative direction.
It also shows a specific attempt to tilt important swing states (including the Granddaddy of the 2004 election, Ohio) in a conservative direction.
What About Florida?
But, I was still left to wonder if the RNC really "conspired" to skew the election with the gay marriage issue, why didn't they look to the most obvious state of them all -- Florida?
A March, 2004 Miami Herald article/poll gave me my answer:
|While most Florida voters don't approve of marriage for gay and lesbian couples, a majority support civil unions that would give same-sex couples the legal rights of married couples, according to a new poll.|
Voters are also uncomfortable with a proposed federal constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage for gays, with only 41 percent of those polled saying they would support President Bush's push to ban same-sex marriages.
A plurality of voters say the regulation of marriage should be left to states, according to a Herald/St. Petersburg Times poll of 800 registered voters in Florida. Eleven percent of voters are undecided on the constitutional amendment question.
Clearly, because of the volatility of Florida in the 2000 election, I believe that the RNC did not want to make waves in this regard...
In fact, I would go so far to say that this Miami Herald poll is the best evidence that the gay marriage issue was a pivotal RNC strategy.
What does it all mean?
With all of the failures of the Bush Administration (i.e., largest debt in our country's history, largest deficit, highest loss of jobs in decades, the WMD search in Iraq) and President Bush's failure to acknowledge any mistakes (other than his selection of appointees who ended up attacking his administration), I think the tide of this country was directing towards a certain Bush loss.
Yet, a look at the Bush results in the states in which the gay marriage ban was included on the ballot shows that Bush GAINED votes in each of those states.
It is because of this that I believe that the RNC strategy team was absolutely brilliant in including Ohio among those states deciding this "moral" issue. The religious right came out in droves and proved to be the exclamation point at the end of a very brilliantly strategized election plan.
It is worthy of note that the Democrats made the most siginificant gains, of all the swing states, in Ohio -- a total of 13%.
Notwithstanding, Kerry still lost Ohio. I believe that the Democrats 13% gain in Ohio would have been much higher were it not for the gay marriage ballot measure. Ohio voters overwhelmingly supported the ban on gay marriage... 62%-38%.
In the end, because Ohio ultimately decided the election, so, too, did those Ohio voters who came out in favor of a gay marriage ban and, presumably, George Bush.
"Treat the Earth not as if it was given to you by your parents, but as if it was lent to you by your children." - Kenyan Proverb
"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw