Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gay Marriage Ban Trends: 2% a Year Progress

Leave it to Nate Silver of to do an analysis of the results of various gay marriage ban votes and come up with a general trend of 2% towards allowing gay marriage and predictions of when each state will do so:

It turns out that you can build a very effective model by including just three variables:

1. The year in which the amendment was voted upon;
2. The percentage of adults in 2008 Gallup tracking surveys who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives;
3. The percentage of white evangelicals in the state.

These variables collectively account for about three-quarters of the variance in the performance of marriage bans in different states. The model predicts, for example, that a marriage ban in California in 2008 would have passed with 52.1 percent of the vote, almost exactly the fraction actually received by Proposition 8.

Unsurprisingly, there is a very strong correspondence between the religiosity of a state and its propensity to ban gay marriage, with a particular "bonus" effect depending on the number of white evangelicals in the state.

Marriage bans, however, are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year. So, for example, we'd project that a state in which a marriage ban passed with 60 percent of the vote last year would only have 58 percent of its voters approve the ban this year.

All of the other variables that I looked at -- race, education levels, party registration, etc. -- either did not appear to matter at all, or became redundant once we accounted for religiosity. Nor does it appear to make a significant difference whether the ban affected marriage only, or both marriage and civil unions.

Say what you want about the man's ideology, his election predictions have been a lot more accurate than those of his political opposition.

Gawker then picked up the data, made a map and spoke the unspeakable:

What gay activists say when they hope no one's listening: Winning same-sex marriage rights is just a matter of waiting for old people to die. Here's a map of which states will go gay next.

And people wonder why it's often said that the south is 10 years behind the rest of the nation.

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