Polls Show Obama's Support For Gay Marriage Influencing Blacks | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Polls Show Obama's Support For Gay Marriage Influencing Blacks

In this space earlier this month, I wrote about whether President Obama would face a backlash from African-Americans for his endorsement of same-sex marriage. (He hasn't.) I made mention of a random field experiment in which 285 black people in Cook County, Ill., were polled about gay marriage.

One group was read a quotation from Coretta Scott King, the late wife of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in support of marriage equality. The other group wasn't. The theory was that King's comments might influence people to express support for gay marriage. But her words had no such effect.

The surprise was that race of the pollster who called made all the difference. Here's how Melissa Michelson, the political science professor at Menlo College in California, explained it:

"A black person calling a black person made the respondent more likely to support marriage equality. There's something about being called by a member of your own ethno-racial community."

Why would a small, obscure experiment conducted a year ago matter today?

Because three new polls suggest Michelson's research may have been spot on, as many African-Americans appear to be reconsidering their resistance to gay marriage.

Public Policy Polling last week surveyed blacks in North Carolina, where voters approved a same-sex marriage ban the day before Obama's announcement. The poll found that their opposition, though a robust 59 percent, had dropped 11 points since the state ban passed.

On Thursday, NPR's Eyder Peralta reported in the Two-Way blog that a Washington Post/ABC News poll found African-American support for same-sex marriage at 59 percent, compared with 41 percent before Obama's announcement.

Also on Thursday, Public Policy Polling released another poll, of blacks in Maryland, where voters will decide in November whether to uphold a new state law that legalized same-sex marriage. Fifty-five percent of black respondents said they will vote to enact the law. Back in March, PPP found that 56 percent of blacks said they would vote against the measure.

For blacks, Michelson says, Obama has made support for gay marriage "a safer position to vocalize."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, July 22

This weekend you can see two classic operas about sex, jealousy and drama or sit down for a children’s theater performance that takes a lighter look at love.

WAMU 88.5

Two Chicken Megafarms Proposed In Delaware

Delaware is already a big state for the poultry industry, but proposals for two new megafarms could take things to the next level.

NPR

U.S. Appeals Courts Issue Conflicting Decisions On Obamacare Subsidies

One panel threw out subsidies in the 36 states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges. Another said the IRS rule that set them up was legal.
NPR

Tweeting From A Conflict Zone: Does It Help Or Hurt News Reporting?

As Gaza, Ukraine and Syria trend on Twitter, has social media changed the way conflicts are covered? Host Michel Martin finds out from reporter Anne Barnard and Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.