Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Amendment Bit Allen Coming and Going

Looking at the CNN exit polls, it seems quite clear that the Marshall/Newman amendment hit Allen coming and going.

Early polling indicated that African American voters were not significantly more likely to vote yes on the marriage amendment than white voters. And this was born out by CNN's exit polls which showed white voters at 58-42 and black voters at 56-44.

On the other hand, CNN exit polls also indicate that black voters made up 16% of the electorate in this election. If that holds true, it means black voters made up a higher percentage of the electorate than in any other statewide election except Wilder's gubernatorial victory(17%).

Since black voters are more reliably Democratic in partisan contests (of which the amendment was not one), the push by va4marriage to turn out more pro-amendment voters, including those from African American constituencies, certainly did backfire on Allen.

The effort caused more black voters to turn out than otherwise would have been the case, and when they did turn out to vote yes on the amendment, they voted for Webb.

That this was an important aspect in Webb's victory seems clear where, as here, turnout in many high Democratic performance precincts was, on the whole, lower than in high Republican performance precincts.

Put this together with the fact that The Commonwealth Coalition's GOTV campaign was focused on turning out anti-amendment voters in swing districts (35 to 65% Dem performance) and anti-amendment voters were, on the whole, two to three times more likely to vote for Webb than Allen regardless of party.

Thus, it is fair to say that the ballot question turned out voters both for and against the amendment who were less likely to vote for Allen than for Webb.

Ironic, isn't it?


J.Sarge said...

"Thus, it is fair to say that the ballot question turned out voters both for and against the amendment who were less likely to vote for Allen than for Webb."

That is only true in part. It turned out _some_ voters that were more likely to vote for Webb on the margins perhaps (African American voters that may have been targeted by Va4Marriage), but on the whole I still believe the measure redounded to Allen's benefit.

Minority voters has other reasons to go to the polls against Allen - he hurled a racial slur at a person of color on camera.

Congratulations to Sen. James Webb (D-YouTube)!

NoVA Scout said...

Claire: I sure don't follow that. I think that Marshall-Newman did exactly what it was intended to do: Drive up the turnout from the right of the political spectrum. I'll have to curl up with the numbers to be able to make the case fully (and perhaps they won't bear me out on close examination). But I suspect Allen's margin of defeat would have been far larger without the Amendment being on the ballot. Of course, the fact that its real purpose was simply a partisan effort to drive up turnout from a particular sector is yet another reason why it was an affront to the Constitution and those in the GA who supported it should be called to account next election.

CG2 said...

Two examples ... take a look at the data in Henrico County (where Allen's margin of victory was slim and NO on the amendment polled higher than Webb) and then look at the many AA precincts where Webb polled over 90% and the NO vote ranged from 45% to 70%. Add to that the fact that AA turnout was higher than in any election since Wilder's and I think it is clear that Allen's fate was sealed by folks who turned out to vote Yes and voted for Webb and those who turned out to vote NO and voted for Webb regardless of party. And, neither of these include NOVA turnout as a factor.

It is also true that without the turnout boost that the amendment gave Allen in southside/southwest, the election wouldn't have even been close (see, e.g., 9th district where Allen polled 55%, Boucher 68% and the amendment 75% yes).

I still continue to believe that it hurt more than helped in the end.

More detail to come once the election results are certified.

Mike K said...

Good analysis, Claire. To continue though, no campaign helped Webb more than the Commonwealth Coalition. My calculus is that a significant body of voters who typically had not had a reason to go to the polls in the past went this year. You discussed how va4marriage expected a coordinated push for AA voters to vote yes on the amendment and for Allen. However you did not mention the Commonwealth Coalition's push to find, register, and engage GLBT voters in this election. Those voters, probably similarly to AA voters, tended to vote blue in partisan contests. The Coalition's GOTV activities is what gave Webb his push.