Maine is no longer the bellwether she once was in the Nineteenth Century, but should voters in the Pine Tree State vote down a “citizens’ veto” of legislation recognizing gay marriage (that the elected legislature passed and the elected Governor signed), it could signal a shift in popular attitudes toward gay marriage. To be sure, few polls have shown any significant trends in favor of gay marriage in the past three or four years.
However, the recent Gallup poll showing that Americans are becoming increasingly conservative also found that attitudes toward gay marriage “have stayed about the same since 2008.” There may not be a movement toward state-recognized same-sex marriage, but there certainly isn’t a return to the overwhelming opposition we saw in the 1990s.
I had assumed that, without a state Supreme Court decision for gay marriage opponents to rail against, citizens of Maine would not feel disenfranchised by their state’s manner of recognizing same-sex marriages and they would veto the veto. The polls though show a very tight race, with the latest indicating a narrow victory for Question 1, “which would reverse the state’s law legalizing same sex marriage”
At 51-47 it’s within the margin of error but there has been slight movement in support of the question since a PPP poll two weeks ago showed it knotted up at 48.
As Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling wrote, “It’s just going to come down to which side does the better job of getting its people out.” I don’t know what kind of ground game those opposing the initiative have put together. If it’s anything like their efforts last fall in the Golden State, things don’t look good for those who seeking to uphold the legislature’s action.
Given the number of signatures gathered by opponents of the legislation (they gathered twice as many as needed), those favoring Question 1 clearly are fired up and are certain to vote.
All that said, I don’t have much information on the ground game of those opposing the initiative. If they’ve learned from the mistakes made last fall in the Prop 8 battle in California, then we’re in for a long night in the Pine Tree State. We could see the first defeat of a measure seeking to limit marriage (for state purposes) to its traditional meaning.
But, I wouldn’t bet on it.