Polling tidbit: gay marriage in Minnesota

Some interesting details from a recent Star Tribune poll of Minnesotans on their upcoming vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage:

[S]upport falls just short of the 50 percent needed to pass the measure.  Among likely voters, 49 percent would approve constitutional language that defines marriage as only the union of a man and woman. Another 47 percent oppose the measure, while 4 percent are undecided.

Hennepin and Ramsey counties are strongholds of opposition, with 58 percent saying they would vote no. Head to the suburbs outside those two counties and the numbers flip, with 59 percent saying they would support the measure.Minnesota’s oldest voters were the most likely to approve the amendment, with 55 percent of those 65 and older favoring the amendment. Younger voters are just as opposed, with 57 percent saying they will vote against it.

Fully 57 percent of men say they support the measure, but 56 percent of women were opposed.  Party affiliation is another strong fault line, with 78 percent of Republicans in favor and 73 percent of Democrats opposed. Independents, often crucial swing voters in any election, are coming down on the side of the amendment by 55 percent to 38 percent opposed. About 7 percent were undecided — the single-largest block of undecided voters in the sample on the marriage question.

Several takeaways here: it’s truly amazing how small the breakdown across age and gender lines is, especially relative to the party breakdown.  The numbers of older people in favor, for example, are drastically smaller than they would have been a few years ago, while the gender breakdown is completely in line with the typical male-female split on most issues.  Though the 58% opposition in Hennipin/Ramsey seems low to me — my very scientific poll of yard signs and bumper stickers suggests it’s closer to unanimous. Meanwhile, we learn that as usual independent voters are mostly identifiable for being completely clueless about everything.

The poll had other interesting news: support for civil unions was high across every subcategory (including, notably, with Republicans), and overall support for civil unions was at 68%.  I would guess, however, that this will never translate into a civil union bill being passed, since Democrats will probably just go for marriage whenever they get the chance.  (I haven’t yet figured out how much of an impediment a constitutional amendment would actually be; presumably if it passes narrowly they could just do like Maine and try to repeal it in a few years.)

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