WTHX: Experiment 4 – What the Hell is with the Rural/Urban Voter Demographic Divide in Maine?

Pre-vote polls and preliminary reports from the Maine gay marriage ballot, “Question 1,” suggested a heavy split between “rural” and “urban” voters.   Specifically, rural voters were far more likely to vote for the ballot measure, which repealed state legislation that officially recognized same-sex marriages.  This makes Maine the 31st state to have rejected gay marriage at the voting ballots.

Why is there such a voting discrepancy between the two demographics?

According to the California demographic studies done in the aftermath of Proposition 8 (ref. WTHX: Ex 3), there is a strong correlation between the urbanization levels of a population and its age, religious tendencies, political affiliation and education.

Specifically, urban voters, which were most likely to vote in favor of gay marriage, also trend as younger, more likely to hold a college degree, more likely to vote Democrat and were, on the whole, less religiously inclined than their counterparts on the other side of the issue.

The racial trends are also worth noting: from the California studies again, non-Caucasian groups (which also tend to trend as more religious or more socially conservative) were actually slightly less favorably inclined towards same-sex marriage. However, the statistics for this indicates across Latino, Asian and Black communities, and do not further break down along specific communities.

What does this mean for the same-sex marriage movement?

While winning their 31st battle against same-sex marriage has boosted the confidence of conservative elements, the outlook for the gay rights movement as a whole remains, at most, ambivalent.

To put the loss in context, while Maine has not had a gay marriage challenge before, they did have a healthy 47% turnout in the defense of same-sex marriage. This is almost exactly parallel to general American views on the issue, according to the National Constitution Center Poll of Sept. 2009. According to Gallup’s historical statistics, that is a 12% increase from a decade ago, though the Gallup poll also indicates a lower favorable view of gay marriage, reducing the gain to 5%.

Gallup indicates that the relative lack of change in recent years is due to the increasing number of states that have indicated approval of gay marriage, reducing the prominence of the movement within the states.


~ by Gonzo Mehum on November 4, 2009.

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