The latest polling on NC’s same-sex marriage amendment

PPP released a poll earlier this week that suggests the tide is moving against the anti gay marriage (anti-gay, period) amendment.   Support for the amendment is still a good bit over 50%, but the recent movement and the underlying dynamics of opinion suggest there is a very real possibility this amendment is defeated (though, I’d still put my money on passage):

Momentum is turning against North Carolina’s proposed marriage amendment.  PPP’s newest poll finds only 54% of voters in the state planning to support it, while 40% are opposed. This is the lowest level of support PPP has found in monthly polling of the amendment since last October. When PPP first polled on it six months ago 61% supported it with only 34% opposed, so its current 14 point lead has been cut almost in half from the 27 point advantage it started out with.

Here, I think is the key bit (which I’ve mentioned before)

There is some reason to think a huge upset in two weeks is within the realm of possibility. 53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, with only 44% opposed to any recognition for same sex couples. The proposed amendment would ban both gay marriage and civil unions, but voters continue to be confused about that. Just 36% correctly identify that it would ban both while 26% think it bans only gay marriage, 10% think it actually legalizes gay marriage, and 27% admit that they don’t know what it does.

When voters are informed that the proposed amendment would preclude both marriage and civil unions for gay couples only 38% continue to support it with 46% in opposition. Voters obviously will be more tuned into the amendment debate over the final two weeks of the campaign than they have been to date, particularly as the against side’s tv ads hit the air, and it seems quite possible that as voters become more and more informed about the amendment they will continue to move more and more against it.
Also interesting to see where the movement is coming from:

The main movement over the last month has been with Democratic voters. Previously they were almost evenly divided on the amendment but now they’re moving against it with only 38% still in support and 56% opposed. A big part of that is a shift among black voters. They still support it by a 51/39 margin, but that’s well down from 61/30 on our a poll a month ago.

The poll also highlights the huge young vs old divide, thought that’s nothing new.  The reason I still think that the amendment will likely pass is that a primary electorate skews older than a general election electorate.  But for those in opposition, there’s definitely a chance.  Seems to me the key is the opposition forces really getting the information out there so that people actually understand what they are voting for.  If that happens, they win.

Predicting the election

I’m going to be scheduled to give a talk to some DC area NCSU alumni in a couple of weeks about the presidential election.  Part of me is tempted to just show this widget created by Ezra Klein where you enter economic growth and presidential approval and look at the chances of Obama’s re-election:

Of course there’s more to it than that, but that’s why the model gives us a probability, rather than a certainty.  I suspect that your typical reader of political blogs (at least the lefty ones) now appreciates the really important role of the economy in determining election results, but I suspect for your average– even reasonably informed– member of the general public, this is really not the case.

Photo of the day

Well, I missed it on Wednesday when it was actually World Penguin Day (always April 25th, apparently), but it will be belatedly celebrated on the blog today.  This is from a Big Picture set of Antarctica photos from a few years back:

A molting emperor penguin seen on January 3, 2007. (Carlie Reum/National Science Foundation)


Golden Goose and the nature of basic research

Via Wonkblog:

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) believes it is time the sex life of the screwworm got its due.

On Wednesday afternoon, Cooper rose to the defense of taxpayer-funded research into dog urine, guinea pig eardrums and, yes, the reproductive habits of the parasitic flies known as screwworms–all federally supported studies that have inspired major scientific breakthroughs. Together with two House Republicans and a coalition of major science associations, Cooper has created the first annual Golden Goose Awards to honor federally funded research “whose work may once have been viewed as unusual, odd, or obscure, but has produced important discoveries benefiting society in significant ways.”

Federally-funded research of dog urine ultimately gave scientists and understanding of the effect of hormones on the human kidney, which in turn has been helpful for diabetes patients. A study called “Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig” resulted in treatment of early hearing loss in infants. And that randy screwworm study? It helped researchers control the population of a deadly parasite that targets cattle–costing the government $250,000 but ultimately saving the cattle industry more than $20 billion, according to Cooper’s office.

Cooper says that his original inspiration for the Golden Goose Award was the long-running “Golden Fleece Awards” that the late Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) bestowed upon the most wasteful government spending, beginning in 1975. More recently, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has taken up that mantle. In a report last year on the National Science Foundation, Coburn blasted frivolous-sounding research that received federal funding, including one study that put shrimp on miniature treadmills and another that asked smokers to mail in their toenail clippings.

Good for Cooper!  You know what, a lot of basic research ends up being a dead end with little of lasting value.  But you know what– the whole point of basic research is that you don’t know what’s going to pan out.  The only way to get breakthroughs via basic research is to fund a lot of it.  Maybe most of it will amount to nothing, but those few breakthroughs will be more than worth it.  Once you start cutting out research just because a title sounds funny you may have just cut out the cure for diabetes.  Is some of this basic research more worthy than others?  Of course.  Nobody gets serious money without serious peer review.  Sure, it’s imperfect, but nobody’s come up with a better system.  So, think twice next time you hear the crazy title of some government-funded research.

Climate as a wedge issue?

TNR’s Alex McGillis makes the interesting case that Obama may be trying to use climate change as a wedge issue against Romney with disaffected wealthy voters whom are unhappy with Obama, but can be scared off of Romney by his kowtowing to the anti-science wing of the GOP:

Looked at another way, though, climate change might not be a bad thing for Obama to talk about—as a wedge issue, with certain audiences. Specifically, the well-educated swing voters who backed him last time around but may be taking a look at Romney, who showed strength with upscale voters in the Republican primary.  National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar recently argued that this is a real vulnerability for Obama:

It’s easy to forget, now that Obama is preaching a populist message on the campaign trail, that a major part of his support came from the very 1 percent that he’s now calling on to pay their fair share in taxes. Obama carried the super-wealthy—those making $200,000 or more a year—with 52 percent of the vote, 17 points more thanJohn Kerry won in 2004. But now surveys show Obama losing significant ground with affluent voters, trailing Romney 49 percent to 43 percent among those making $100,000 or more in the latest Quinnipiac poll—his worst showing among any economic demographic…

Still, Kraushaar is on to something—Romney holds a natural appeal for many upscale, suburban swing voters that John McCain lacked, and that he certainly lacked once he picked the Alaskan huntress as his running mate. Obama needs to worry about holding onto this demographic in states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and Pennsylvania (among other states) even as he works to limit his losses among working-class white voters with his more populist language. And what better way to do that than to remind these upscale voters that Romney has abandoned his formerly strong stance on addressing climate change for a morass of near-denialist statements? At the very least, it might force Romney to tack back to the center (i.e., scientific reality) on this issue, thus highlighting anew how far he has swung from his technocratic moorings. So keep an eye on this. It may just have been an off-the-cuff answer to a good question. But it may also be something that Chicago has up its sleeve.

Interesting idea.  Of course, the question in something like this is does it gain more potential votes than it loses?  Are their other potential voter blocs who might potentially favor Obama but be disinclined to over matters of climate?  I suspect

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