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Signs of Movement On Same-Sex Marriage Among Blacks

Over at Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight blog they like to do a lot of meta-thinking about, well, polling, and while they do see a shift among Blacks regarding the issue of same-sex marriage, they are cautious about it. They state that President Barack Obama’s announcement of support has likely not sent the rate up enormously, but it has probably accelerated support for same-sex marriage.

They note that:

Support for same-sex marriage has been growing in the general population since at least the mid-1990s. That trend has been evident among blacks as well — but at a considerably slower pace. A poll conducted by Pew Research in April, just a few weeks before Mr. Obama’s announcement, found 39 percent of blacks supporting gay marriage and 49 percent opposing it. By contrast, a plurality of white Americans supported gay marriage in the Pew poll, as they have in most other recent surveys.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 59% of Blacks favor same-sex marriage.

538 also notes that:

There is reason to be cautious in interpreting these numbers. First, polling has tended to overestimate support for same-sex marriage ballot referendums by about seven percentage points. In addition, the sample sizes for demographic subgroups like African-Americans are small, producing large margins of error.

In the end, the thinking is more that Obama’s announcement made it easier for various Blacks to actually voice their support rather than actually changing people’s minds. A study conducted by Melissa R. Michelson and Brian F. Harrison found that the race of the caller in polling actually effects support for same-sex marriage. Michelson stated that “So if it was an African-American calling an African-American, then they were much more likely to say they were a supporter of same-sex marriage. We don’t think people were changing their minds, but they felt more comfortable” expressing support for same-sex marriage.

J. Michael Bitzer also noted “I certainly want to see several more polls. But if these kinds of early signals are being sent, then we could see a significant transformation on same-sex marriage in the African-American community.”

Still, basically, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a lot of people leaving Obama over same-sex marriage.

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