The Spectacle Blog

Obama, Gay Marriage, and the Black Vote

By on 5.15.12 | 2:57PM

Over at Mother Jones, Adam Serwer cites polling data that suggests Republicans shouldn't expect a lot of black votes over the president's embrace of gay marriage. First he looks at Pew numbers showing that 68 percent of black Americans say their views of Barack Obama were unaffected and an earlier survey showing a drop in black opposition to same-sex marriage since 2004. Serwer continues:

Perhaps even more indicative of the direction black voters are heading, a Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday shows a larger percentage of whites (48 percent) disapproving of Obama's decision than blacks (37 percent) despite the fact that polls have consistently shown black voters more opposed to marriage equality on average. The fifty-seven percent of black voters who approve are even more likely to approve strongly (31 percent) of Obama's decision than the population as a whole (28 percent).

Serwer is undoubtedly right that Mitt Romney will net very few black votes from Obama's flip-flop. My guess is that Obama's percentage of the black vote won't look much different than in 2008. But if the race remains close, Obama won't just need the same percentage. He will need black turnout to be comparable to what it was four years ago. Here is where I think in a tight contest the issue could hurt him at the margins with blacks: some number of black pastors and churches will not work as hard, or at all, to get out the vote.

Not a huge number, mind you, and there will be a lot of factors that are more important to whether Obama is reelected in November. But if we are headed toward a 2000/2004-style squeaker, it could make some difference.

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