Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET — After losing some 30 ballots on same-sex marriage across the country over the past decade, advocates of lesbian and gay couples are encouraged by polls showing they have a good chance of finally logging their first victory in a statewide popular vote.
Polls show majorities back same-sex marriage in Maryland, Washington and Maine, and they indicate a tight battle in Minnesota – the four states holding votes on the issue in November.
“We’re feeling positive. The reality is, we haven’t won a ballot measure on marriage yet,” said Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. “I think it’s very reasonable and realistic to expect that we’ll win one or more of these ballot measures; certainly the polling suggests that all four are … a possibility.”
Polling ahead of such ballots has not always accurately captured voters’ sentiment: In California in 2008, the same-sex marriage camp had a majority, though the ban on gay and lesbian marriage ultimately prevailed. In North Carolina, polls had predicted a closer race in the May ballot on the constitutional amendment (a 16-point difference, according to Public Policy Polling at the time), but the anti-gay marriage camp won by more than 20 points.
“They’re doing what they’ve also done, taking their victory lap before their first victory,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which on Thursday gave $250,000 to each of the four state campaigns opposed to same-sex marriage.
“The poll numbers that they’re interpreting as good for them are actually not good for them,” he said Friday, though noting that Washington could be tough for his side.
So far, the polls show support in the low-to-mid 50s for same-sex marriage: