Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marriage Backfire for Virginia GOP

In a careful analysis in an op-ed published by The Badger Herald, the campus newspaper at the University of Wisconsin, a freshman majoring in political science and religious studies offers evidence that Webb's slim margin of victory is directly linked to the marriage proposal on the ballot last Tuesday.

Will Smith believes Webb's win "is a testament to a new phenomenon: the voting power of college students." And strong college student turnout in the largest college towns "translat[ed] to a 15000 vote margin in ]Webb's] favor."

The counties hosting the universities voted for Webb at rates of 77 percent, 59 percent, and 72 percent respectively...[And accepting] the fact that a large majority of the remaining counties favored Sen. Allen or split evenly, it is reasonable to say that the large college vote for Webb ultimately shifted this election in his favor.
Webb won the race by a total of a 9326 votes.

Smith further argues that driving the "historic college student turnout was the ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, similar to Wisconsin’s amendment."

This initiative has been used successfully by Republicans across the country to motivate their base of reliably conservative voters on Election Day. However, the unintended consequence in Virginia was an increase in predominantly liberal college students voting. While the gay-marriage ban passed overwhelmingly, 57 percent to 43 percent, a strong network of “Vote No” campus groups, similar to our sidewalk-chalking friends in Madison, emerged to help increase voter turnout. Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia had campus-wide rallies against the gay-marriage ban leading up to Election Day. While these efforts failed at preventing the ban, the increased number of liberal-leaning voters at the polls swung the closely contested Senate seat to the Democrat.

Smith is not alone. Falls Church News-Press previously concluded pretty much the same thing about the amendment, whether driven by youth voters or not:
An analysis of the voting pattern Tuesday in Virginia suggests that the so-called “marriage amendment” on the ballot as Question 1 might have cost U.S. Senator George Allen the election. If true, it would mark an ironic twist, the backfiring of an effort Republicans hoped would spur a stronger turnout for their incumbent.

Indeed! As much as Howling Latina opposed the marriage amendment and was sorry to see it pass, given two choices, failure of the measure or Allen getting the boot, HL will take the latter each and every time.

Congratulations, Mr. Marshall; and every GOP nutwing who beseeched state voters to pass the referendum.

From the bottom of our progressive hearts, Virginia and nation thank you.

Eh, his logic is horribly misleading but that's because he doesn't understand the colleges he cites. GMU and VCU both contain a large number of commuting college students and those that don't commute are by and large not residents of the area where they school. Yet they, and UVA, find themselves seated in what has for a long time been largely Democratic areas. It's faulty logic. It was not college voter turnout to the polls so much as locality turnout in general that tipped this election, the presence of the college being a non-factor. Unless one wants to try and see whether volunteers from the schools really helped or not.
Don't registrars in communities with residential campuses also take very different positions on encouraging/discouraging student registration? Fights in Williamsburg over this have made the papers frequently. Until someone puts up some numbers I don't think it is reasoanble to say college students make up a large or small portion of the poipulation in any of our college towns.

And nationally? Well sorry kids no. See Kevin Drum's post here: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_11/010211.php
I think the logic may indeed be flawed. Yet the presence of the "Please Don't Read the Second Paragraph" amendment on the ballot may still have contributed to Allen's defeat.

The amendment may quite possibly have brought additional African American voters out to vote yes. Those same voters may have given Webb his margin of victory.

It would be a delicious irony if this cynical and politically motivated amendment had come back to bite the Republicans in the ass. It would be nice to see the end of wedge issues and have an honest debate on matters of public policy that truly have an impact on the daily lives of Virginia citizens.
Ever stop to consider it might have also been affected by lots and lots of GAY voters who might normally have skipped a mid-term election were it not for the Amendment?

Once there, they took the opportunity to vote for a Democrat that supported their position..or at least more than Allen who made it clear what he thought of gays...Look at the numbers in Arlington and Fairfax counties. There are a lot more of us out here in VA than anyone really wants to know or admit. Not enough for a majority... But us and a MILLION of our friends voted NO!! Next stop is Bob Marshall's race for Delegate. Paybacks are hell.
Absolutely Tim.

I thought the freshman's take was a little grandiose as far as college students being the reason; however, with such a narrow margin of victory, I think it was the focused students, angry gays, outraged libbies (like myself), disgusted moderates, insulted Latinos, skeptical Jews, and so on:)
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