PPP's first look at the proposed marriage amendment in North Carolina since the legislature placed it on the ballot finds it leading 61-34. Republicans are overwhelmingly in favor of it (80/17) and independents (52/43) and Democrats (49/44) support it as well, although by more narrow margins.
The interesting thing is that 51% of this same set of voters supports legal recognition for gay couples. 22% favor gay marriage and another 29% civil unions, with only 46% completely opposed to granting same sex couples legal recognition. The problem for those trying to defeat the amendment is that 37% of voters who support gay marriage or civil unions are still planning to vote for it. That suggests a lot of folks aren't familiar with how wide reaching the proposed amendment would be and it gives those fighting it a chance- they just have to get their message out effectively to the majority of North Carolinians who do support legal recognition for gay couples that the proposal goes too far.
This is really a classic example of how small differences in poll question wording can lead to huge differences in how people respond. Last month we asked the following question "State legislators have proposed an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would prohibit the recognition of marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. If the election was held today,would you vote for or against this amendment?" When you ask it that way only 30% of voters are supportive and 55% are opposed. Voters are against 'prohibiting' recognition for gay couples. But if you word it in such a way that all you're doing is defining marriage as between one man and one woman, voters are ok with that. You're asking about the same thing in both cases, but the semantics make a huge difference and Republicans clearly know what they're doing with the language that's on the ballot.
One key group of voters those fighting the amendment will really have to reach out to is black Democrats. 70% of them support it to 25% opposed. White Democrats on the other hand oppose it by a 57/37 margin.
In other news:
-The state continues to be very closely divided about how it will vote for the Legislature next year- 45% say they would go for the Republicans, while 44% side with the Democrats. The GOP has the slight edge largely because of a 41-28 advantage with independents. Both sides can spin these numbers as a positive. In June in the heat of the legislative session Democrats were up 46-41, so Republicans have gained some ground since then. But right before last November's election when the Republicans took control of the General Assembly they had a 51-40 lead on this question so Democrats have made a large comeback compared to that. The net effect: Dems would probably win back a few legislative seats if the election was today, but not enough for a majority.
-Although Legislative Republicans continue to be unpopular, with a 36/48 favorability spread, that represents their best standing since May when they were at 36/42. The best plan for Republicans to help their poll numbers may be to spend as little time in session as possible- when they're in the news their numbers go down. Legislative Democrats have similar numbers at 38/47.
-Although Bev Perdue continues to be unpopular, voters trust her more than the Republicans in the General Assembly by a 43/42 margin. That speaks to the way the GOP majority has been a good foil for Perdue- when Democrats were in charge pretty much all of the blame for the state's problems fell in Perdue's lap. But with divided government some of that's falling on the Republicans now and Perdue's approval numbers and standing against Pat McCrory are both much better than they were a year ago.
Full results here