May 7, 2012
Tomorrow is North Carolina’s big election day, when the fate of Amendment One will finally be decided. I spent the weekend in Raleigh working with the Coalition to Protect All NC Families (and some amazing Courage Campaign volunteers from California and DC) to get out the vote, register volunteers and canvass. After the election, I’m going to sit down to write a more in-depth reflection piece on my experience in North Carolina, but for this morning I thought it would be worth taking a look at the situation on the ground and digging into the numbers a bit to see where we are going into tomorrow’s election.
First off, the polling. The final PPP poll, released yesterday, featured a 55-39 split, with more voters favoring the amendment than opposing it. These numbers showed almost no change from last week. The poll did show, however, that misinformation, and not any inherent opposition to equality, was the major driving force behind respondents’ voting plans:
In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs. 53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both. The reason for that disconnect is even with just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.
On my way out of the Raleigh-Durham airport yesterday, three different airport employees read my Vote Against Amendment One t-shirt and asked me what Amendment One was. All three of them were young, and none had even heard of the amendment. When I explained to them how it would change North Carolina’s constitution and what the repercussions of its passage could be for families, women and children, they were shocked, and each one told me they would now vote against Amendment One. While our conversations were incredibly positive, the fact that these three young voters (all of whom clearly came down on the side of equality) had not even heard of the amendment illustrates just how uphill the climb faced by the anti-amendment campaign was.
Despite these difficulties, though, the Coalition to Protect All NC Families has run an incredible campaign. On a call with reporters last night, Nation Hahn, the campaign’s Director of Engagement, announced that the campaign had raised more than $2.5 million, with $910,000 coming from over 7,000 online donors. In this ballot fight, the pro-equality side significantly outspent the anti-equality forces. President Clinton recorded a robocall against the amendment, which was deployed to over 500,000 voters starting yesterday, and the campaign today released its final video on YouTube, which you can watch below.
The campaign’s voting numbers are even more impressive. In 2008, when South Carolina was an important state in the highly competitive Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, 486,000 people voted early. It was the highest early vote turnout in the state’s history. This year, without a competitive Democratic primary and with the Republican primary all but over, the number of early voters broke 2008’s record, with 507,000 voters participating.
During early voting this year, 46% of voters were registered Democrats, 34% were registered Republicans and 20% were unaffiliated. A full 56% of early voters were voting in their first or second primary. These voters are for the most part considered “unlikely” voters, and were therefore not included in the polling that has been conducted up to this point. Our side has focused significant effort on these voters, who are younger, more progressive and more likely to vote against the amendment. In addition, the anti-amendment campaign conducted almost 10,000 get out the vote shifts by the end of this weekend, with another 4,000 scheduled for today and tomorrow. In all, almost 800,000 calls to voters have been made.
What do all these numbers mean? As it has always been, the Amendment One campaign will come down to voter education and actually getting supporters to the polls, either early or on this Tuesday. The Coalition to Protect All NC Families is hopeful that the final vote tomorrow could mirror the so-called “personhood amendment” on the ballot in Mississippi last November. Polls were showing broad demographic support for that amendment, which enjoyed the support of politicians politicians of both parties. Nevertheless, although Mississippi’s amendment continued to look like it would pass as the election neared, it was ultimately rejected by voters by a stunning 59 to 41% margin.
An upset on Amendment One tomorrow would, of course, be a thrilling victory. No matter what happens, though, the Coalition has run a historic campaign, and the vote will likely be much closer tomorrow than conventional wisdom has predicted.
Check out the Coalition to Protect All NC Families’s powerful final video against Amendment One below.
1. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.
2. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.
3. Sign up to help get out the vote in NC yourself! Courage Campaign is arranging out-of-state caravans and travel assistance is available.
4. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.