Obama, North Carolina at Odds on Gay Marriage: Will It Cost Him the State? (+Video)

By Feldmann, Linda | The Christian Science Monitor, May 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Obama, North Carolina at Odds on Gay Marriage: Will It Cost Him the State? (+Video)


Feldmann, Linda, The Christian Science Monitor


Obama announced his support for gay marriage a day after North Carolina, which he won narrowly in 2008, voted for a constitutional ban on such unions. The Democratic convention is in Charlotte, but that's no guarantee.

As of Wednesday, President Obama now openly supports gay marriage. North Carolina voters, just a day earlier, decided by a wide margin to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage and civil unions.

And in the first week of September, Mr. Obama and the Democrats will gather in the state's largest city - Charlotte - for their quadrennial convention.

Even though Obama won the Tar Heel State by only three-tenths of a percent in 2008, his team hoped he could build on that success and win again there in 2012, especially with all the attention and money lavished by the convention.

Maybe, if members of the Democratic National Committee could have a do-over, they would rethink this one.

But that decision was set two years ago, and so Charlotte it will be. Maybe North Carolina's electoral votes were already a lost cause before the president announced his support for gay marriage, given the sour mood of voters over the economy. But if he is to have any chance at all of winning the state again - he was the first Democrat to do so since Jimmy Carter in 1976 - he will have to watch two key groups: swing voters and African Americans.

Swing voters, typically based in suburbs, matter everywhere. They are, by definition, the deciders in battleground states. But the African American question could be trickier. While national polls show that a majority of white voters support gay marriage, among African Americans, support lags. Last year, a Washington Post/ABC News poll put the percentage of black support for gay marriage at 42 percent, with 55 percent opposing.

African Americans are a crucial part of Obama's base, and he needs them to turn out for him. Given his status as the first black president, Obama has commanded fierce loyalty among black voters.

But consider the gay marriage vote in North Carolina: Some majority black counties that went big for Obama four years ago were just as strong in their support for the anti-gay-marriage amendment on Tuesday.

"For example, Hertford County, with a 60 percent black population, voted for Obama with 70 percent in 2008 and on Tuesday 70 percent of its voters backed the constitutional amendment defining marriage," MSNBC reports.

"And Halifax County, with a 53 percent black population, voted for Obama with 64 percent in 2008 and backed the amendment with 68 percent of its votes. …

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