Poll Shows Opening for Campaign to Defeat Amendment One

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com April 24 2012 11:50 AM ET

A new poll suggests that the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in North Carolina can be defeated if campaigners can educate voters, a significant percentage of whom remain confused about the measure.

The Public Policy Polling survey of likely voters released Tuesday puts support for Amendment One at 54%, with 40% opposed. The results mark the lowest “for” and highest “against” totals in polling to date, where a PPP survey of likely voters last month found 58% in favor and 38% opposed.

North Carolina voters will decide Amendment One in exactly two weeks during the primary election on May 8.The far-reaching measure would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, and potentially jeopardize health insurance for children of domestic partners and other protections, but voters appear to be confused about the full extent of the proposal.

According to the News & Observer, “The survey shows more primary voters are starting to understand the amendment would ban gay marriage and civil unions. But 10 percent still erroneously think it legalizes gay marriage and another 27 percent are unsure what it would do.”

Protect All North Carolina Families,
the coalition working to defeat the amendment, has targeted its efforts toward voter uncertainty about the measure. The coalition produced two TV ads that began airing in major markets throughout the state on Monday. The ads touch upon the amendment’s “unintended consequences” for health insurance coverage for the children of domestic partners, whose relationships would no longer be recognized if the amendment passes, and for survivors of domestic violence, who could losetwo TV ads court-ordered protections if their non-marriage relationships with their attackers have no recognized status.

The latest poll was conducted before the new TV ads went on the air. In an update on Sunday, coalition leaders said their research indicates the ads held the potential to move voters to a 50-50 split on Amendment One. The referendum requires majority approval.

Protect All NC Families exceeded a $100,000 matching gift Monday, raising more than $140,000 in less than a week online. The coalition has raised more than $1.5 million so far, but most of that comes from smaller donations inside North Carolina, and leaders have been making more urgent appeals for significant contributions from national donors, including the Democratic National Committee, which will hold its nominating convention in Charlotte this September. In a message to followers Tuesday, the coalition said that it “simply must expand our ad buy further to defeat the inevitable misinformation from the opposition.”

Supporters of Amendment One are also redoubling their own efforts in the final two weeks. They are expected run ads in major markets and continue their outreach in African-American churches. Blacks constitute 22% of the population in North Carolina, and according to the News & Observer, the PPP poll shows that they favor the amendment two-to-one, while Democratic primary voters are evenly split. High Democratic turnout is expected on May 8 because of a heated gubernatorial primary, while Republican turnout is predicted to be lower now that Mitt Romney appears to have secured the presidential nomination.

North Carolina is currently the only Southern state without a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. A defeat of Amendment One would break a long-running losing streak on such ballot initiatives around the country.