Voters Take Decidedly Anti-Conservative Bent on Initiatives

Just two years ago the nation had conservatism on its mind, passing gay marriage bans in states around the country and reelecting President Bush and a Republican Congress. Today, as Democrats hold significant leads in both individual races and on generic preference questions, Americans are taking a clearly less conservative path on initiatives around the country.

On Tuesday, South Dakotans will have an opportunity to vote on two measures of particular note, one banning gay marriage the other outlawing abortions without exclusion for rape, incest or the health of the mother. Mason-Dixon polling on the latter issue shows that voters in the state are prepared to say no to new restrictions on abortion by a 52 percent to 42 percent margin. On the former issue, South Dakota voters are split on the issue of banning gay marriage, with 47 percent opposing a ban and 46 percent supporting it. In Colorado, where voters will also be deciding whether to ban gay marriage, new SurveyUSA polling shows voters similarly split, with 41 percent opposing the ban and 40 percent supporting it. No matter how you slice these numbers, they represent a major shift in public opinion from just two years ago.

Oregon, where I vote, is seeing a similar shift. A new Oregonian / KATU News poll (.pdf) conducted by non-partisan firm Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall finds some interesting results from the three (of ten, total) ballot measures that they poll. On Measure 43, parental notification for teen abortions, 50 percent of Oregonians oppose the measure while just 42 percent support it. Independents oppose the measure by a ten-point margin. On legislative term-limits (Measure 45), which passed a decade ago but was later tossed out by the courts, the measure goes down 57 percent to 32 percent. Majorities of all partisan groups oppose the measure. And on Measure 48, a Colorado-like TABOR law, Oregonians overwhelmingly vote no, 57 percent to 24 percent. Looking at the cross-tabs, even a plurality of Republicans opposes the measure, 45 percent to 34 percent (large majorities of Democrats and Independents also vote no).*

If all of these numbers hold on election day and Democrats are able to win to anywhere near the extent predicted by most analysts, not only will voters have roundly rejected the Republican Party but they will also have shouted a resounding "no" to the conservative politics and tactics used by Republicans and the far Right alike in recent years and tactics, fundamentally undermining the Right not only in the short term but also in the long run.

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* - All numbers include leaners

I F-ing Knew it!!!!

I remember when I first saw Ted Haggard.  I was at home with my parents and we were watching the Sunday morning news, a tradition in my household.  They were debating something to do with evolution, or abortion or gay marriage or one of those nonsensical things that the Christian Taliban gets all hot and bothered about.  

In one of those windows (you know the ones where they have the different window panels with a talking-head in each one) was Ted Haggard.  I looked at him and my Gaydar immediately went off.  I said, "That guy is gay." To my amazement (not surprise) he was one of the Christian Taliban's talking heads.... even though I thought he was Fire Island FLAMING

Well check this out:

A Denver male hustler claims to have had a pay-for-play relationship for several years with evangelist Ted Haggard - one of the leaders of the move to ban same-sex marriage in Colorado.

What can I say other than  I CALLED IT!!

The story gets juicier...

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GOTV: GOP binges on gay rights while Dems fear black apathy

Two bits of news from the NYT:
  • G.O.P. Moves Fast to Reignite Issue of Gay Marriage
  • Democrats Fear Disillusionment in Black Voters

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Making Life Harder For Some People

You know - life is hard and getting harder for a lot of people in this country.  I'm lucky.  My life is pretty good and, while I don't have or make a lot of money, I feel like a rich man.  I have a great family, wonderful friends, good health, and time to do the things I like to do.  There are a lot of wealthy people in this country who can't say that.

But not everyone is equally blessed.  I have a brother who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.  Like me, he has a great family and wonderful friends.  Unlike me, his health is not as good (he's been HIV positive for 22 years) and he doesn't have the time to do what he likes.  He paints houses for a living to make ends meet.  He also happens to be gay.

My brother's name is Andy.  He's a great guy.  I love him like a brother (ha! ha!).  He likes to work in his yard (yes, it's immaculate).  He's a big baseball and hockey fan.  He likes to drink beer and sip an occasional scotch.  He's more religious than I am.  He's a pretty good cook, but no better than me.  He has a great sense of humor and knows a lot of good jokes.  He pays his taxes and looks out for his neighbors.  Bill, his partner of fifteen years, is a great guy as well and I love him, too.

My brother is not a child molester.  He doesn't "sleep around." He doesn't look, act, talk, or (yes, all you right-wingers will be surprised) walk like your stereotype of someone living "the gay lifestyle." In fact, my brother's "lifestyle" isn't much different from mine or from most of the people I know, except when it comes to what goes on in his bedroom in private.  I don't like to think about that.  But, then again, I don't like to think about what goes on in most of my neighbor's bedrooms at night.  Most of them are in their forties and fifties.  Thinking about it just doesn't conjure up very pretty images, so I'll choose to just like them, respect their privacy, and leave their private lives alone.  The same goes for my brother.

I'm voting for Colorado Referendum i in November granting same sex couples basic rights because, even though my brother doesn't live in Colorado, there are many people like my brother who live here.  I know a few of them.  So do you.  Come on - admit it.  You may even have one in your own family.  They are in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships with each other.  But they don't have the same rights that my wife and I have.  That's just not right.  And this initiative will provide them with those rights.

For those of you on the political right, you need to know that I am a huge believer in marriage.  In fact, if you want to circulate petitions that make it a felony for a husband or wife to cheat on their spouse, I would be happy to sign it.  But don't take your hatred out on people who are different from you.  Don't make their lives harder than it already is just because you don't understand them, they're not like you, or somebody tells you that they are somehow evil.  They're not evil.  They're just people.  They're just the way God made them.

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More Evidence of a Depressed Republican Base

Following the 2004 presidential election, the pontificators and pundits seized on the notion that George W. Bush won reelection on the basis of "values voters", many of whom were assumed to have been driven to the polls by the slew of gay marriage ban initiatives on the ballot in states across the country.

I was and have generally been skeptical of these claims, largely because they were based on opinion rather than data or hard evidence. Looking at the differences between the 2000 exit polling and the 2004 exit polling, one notices that the number of voters attending church weekly or more often did not increase relative to the entire electorate between 2000 and 2004. What's more, a look at the two polls shows that George W. Bush gained significantly more votes from less observant voters than he did from more observant ones.

Nevertheless, there is reason to put stock in the idea that ballot measures can have effects up-ballot on federal elections. And it is specifically for this reason that Kirk Johnson's article in the Saturday issue of The New York Times should have Republicans worried.

Recent polls in Arizona, Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin, for example, have suggested only narrow majorities in support [of gay marriage bans], in contrast to the 60 to 70 percent or more majorities in most states that voted on the issue in 2004. Two recent polls in South Dakota suggested that the same-sex marriage amendment might actually lose, while a third said it seemed likely to pass.

"As it stands right now, conservative turnout is not going to be as strong as it has traditionally been," said Jon Paul, the executive director of Coloradans for Marriage, which is supporting a ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage.

Some pollsters say people might just be burned out on the subject of marriage and its boundaries.

"It doesn't seem to be salient to what most Tennesseans are concerned about right now," said Robert Wyatt, the associate director of the Middle Tennessee State University poll. The ballot proposal there will almost certainly pass, Dr. Wyatt said, but few people think it will drive turnout or swing the tight race for the Senate between Bob Corker, a Republican, and Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democrat. Both candidates support a ban on same-sex marriage.

Dr. Wyatt said efforts to stir enthusiasm among conservatives have mostly fallen flat.

Contrast this with the ballot measure in Missouri expressing support for stem cell research. The most recent polling out of the state, courtesy of SurveyUSA shows that the placement of the stem cell measure on the ballot may be having tangible effects on the hotly-contested Senate campaign int he state.

Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill leads Republican incumbent Jim Talent 51% to 42% [...] 69% of those who support Amendment 2, the Stem Cell Initiative, vote for McCaskill. 82% of those who oppose Amendment 2 vote for Talent.

The fact that progressive initiatives like the one championing stem cell research could help turn out moderate and drop off voters for the Democrats while reactive conservative measures like gay marriage bans appear not to be having the same effects upon the Republican base could have wideranging effects on November 7, potentially increasing the scope of any swing away from the GOP on election day. At the least, in an election that will still be decided by turnout (a handful of 51-49 races in one direction could bring significant change to the Congress), the disparity in voter enthusiasm evidenced by the differing levels of support for these ballot measures may be an omen that should be paid heed to just over three weeks before voters go to the polls.

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