The Slatest

Maryland Voters Appear Poised To Legalize Gay Marriage

Gov. Martin O’Malley signs the state’s same-sex marriage bill into law during a ceremony at the Maryland State House in March

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

For months now, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has been cautiously optimistic that his state will take a historic stand in favor of same-sex marriage on Election Day. According to the most recent polling data, his confidence appears justified, with 52 percent of likely voters suggesting they are in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to wed, compared to 43 percent who oppose.

The Democratic governor originally signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law in March, but push back against it was instantaneous, and opponents quickly gathered enough signatures to force a statewide ballot inititiative to decide its fate. While gay marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, it has been on a prolonged losing streak at the ballot box. Should Maryland vote in favor of legalization, it would become the first state to do so by popular vote. (Maine and Washington, however, will also have the chance to vie for that title on Nov. 6.)

Here’s the Washington Post with some analysis:

The Post poll finds sharp differences in support for Question 6 by race, region, age and political party. Both sides in Maryland have been heavily targeting African American voters in a state where blacks make up a larger percentage of the electorate than anywhere outside the Deep South. Proponents have featured ministers and civil rights leaders in their ads. Opponents have networked for months through black churches.

In The Post poll, white voters break in favor of gay nuptials, 56 percent to 39 percent. But African Americans — who had become more supportive in national polls this year — tilt against the measure. In the new survey, 42 percent of black voters support the measure, and 53 percent oppose it.

Among Democrats, the racial divide is even more stark. While 76 percent of white Democrats back Question 6, support is 40 percent among black Democrats. Republicans in the state oppose the measure by 2 to 1, while independents support it 2 to 1.

Given that this is an election year, we would be remiss if we didn’t also point out the potential political ramifications of the ballot measure passing. O’Malley, the head of the Democratic Governors Association, is widely viewed as someone with presidential aspirations. The legalization of same-sex marriage in his state would seem to give him the type of exclamation point-worthy, landmark legislative achievement that liberals love. That, combined with his strong record on crime and education, along with his Joe Biden-esque embrace of religion, could leave him well positioned should he decide to make a run at the 2016 Democratic nomination.