Race, religion, and the voting gap : an analysis of voter choice on same-sex marriage state ballot initiatives
Hines, Mark Charles.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The issue of same-sex marriage has held a prominent place on the political agenda since the 2000s. State-level ballot initiatives have been an important battleground for the status of marriage rights in the United States. Direct democracy has proved to be a useful tool in amending state constitutions to limit the definition of marriage to that of a union between a man and a woman. While the outcome of the ballot initiatives has been clear, the underlying dynamics of what determines individual vote choice have not been. Reports of increased opposition to same-sex marriage among the African American community have spurred questions about the source of this racial divide, and whether a racial divide exists net of religious factors. This study examines individual level data from the National Election Pool General Election Exit Polls from 2004, 2006, and 2008 in seventeen states to analyze the dynamics of vote choice in same-sex marriage ballot initiatives. I show that a racial gap between black and white voters does exist, even when controlling for religious factors. Black voters who are nonreligious are less supportive of same-sex marriage than non-religious white voters. While religion does increase opposition among all voters, it does so with a greater magnitude for white voters.