3 in 10 North Carolinians Say Gay Marriage Has Negatively Impacted Their Lives

by | Feb 12, 2015 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, Gay Marriage, Poll Analysis, Polling | 11 comments

This statistic came from PPP. The state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions was struck down by the courts in October. On the marriage question, 30% of North Carolinians say its legalization has had a negative impact on their lives; 14% say it has had a positive impact. The majority – 56% – say it hasn’t made an impact at all.

Unfortunately, PPP did not ask a straight up-or-down, yes-or-no, question on support of gay marriage, but a poll released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute found North Carolina split on the issue, with 44% in favor of gay marriage and 49% against it. Historically, the way to determine the ‘real’ number is to allocate all the undecided people to the against side. If Amendment 1 was on the ballot today, it would probably pass by something like 56/44 – still a rejection of gay marriage but down from the 61/39 margin the amendment received in May 2012.

Considering North Carolina is one of the most religious states in the nation, its lagging behind the rest of the country in support of gay marriage is not much of a surprise, but interesting results might lurk in the crosstabs of the PPP poll. Men are more likely than women to say same sex marriage legalization has had a negative impact on their lives – with women it’s 15/25 negative, with men it’s 13/36.

Interestingly, Democrats just barely (22/20) say gay marriage has been a positive for them, personally. Presumably, those who answered ‘no impact’ would probably skew in favor of the institution if pressed to choose. There is, as expected, a generational gap. The millennial crowd is more likely to say the gay marriage experience has been positive. As age group goes up, so does the negative over positive spread. Just 9% of respondents over the age of 65 say gay marriage has been a good thing, 32% a bad thing. But a plurality in all age categories say it hasn’t made an impact at all.

Other fun tidbits from the poll: Thom Tillis has a 32/38 approval rating. That’s actually better than his favorability numbers for most of the Senate campaign. Renee Ellmers has an approval of 14/27. The age group with whom she fares worst? Millennials, at 10/34.

Voters disapprove of the General Assembly, 23/51. Legislative Democrats have a worse favorability (34/48) with voters than their Republican counterparts (37/46). The result is the GOP has a 2-point lead on the generic legislative ballot.

People are fairly split on the decision to remove Tom Ross as UNC President. 18% of voters support it; 23% oppose it. The takeaway here is that most people aren’t paying attention. But more have an opinion on this matter than they do about Art Pope, who is at 11/22 in terms of favorability, voters respond about a potential Art Pope UNC presidency along the same lines (12% support, 24% oppose). Pope’s favorability numbers are actually strongest with African Americans, and with the younger crowd. That means after four years of attacks from liberal groups, Tar Heels still have a better view of Art Pope than they do Democrats in the General Assembly.


  1. lank snow

    If there are people that say gay marriage has a negative impact on their lives they should have to
    say EXACTLY how. I would imagine the numbers would be similar if the question was interacial marriage. Eastern NC, get with it it’s 2015 not 1895. Go to Asheville if you want to find the good hearted people. They say NC is one of the most religious states, I know it is one of the most hateful states. Does being religious make people hateful? I guess it does!!

  2. JC Honeycutt

    ….Or a significant percentage of respondents aren’t clear as to the definition of the word “impact”: I’d be more confident of this result if there had been a follow-up question on HOW gay marriage had impacted respondents’ lives. “It upsets me,” or “I just don’t like it” is a reaction/opinion, not an impact–ditto for “I’m afraid a gay person might try to persuade my son/daughter/neighbor/acquaintance to gay-marry him/her” unless such a situation is actually taking place, which I would consider unlikely (unless, of course, one’s child, neighbor or acquaintance is in fact gay, and the respondent would be forced to face reality should that person marry someone of the same sex).

    I realize that facing reality is not necessarily easy for everyone: but it’s a damned sight easier and less destructive than forcing a significant number of our relatives, friends and neighbors to live a lie or be social (and legal) outcasts.

  3. Blake

    Larry beat me to the punch. As with most simplistic polls, they follow-up question is never asked. Such as – is the country going in the right or wrong direction. Then which direction do you think that is? Asking how gay marriage negatively affected the respondent would probably get the response of “I just don’t like it”.

  4. larry

    Dude…you can twist and turn polls as much as you like but my question, which was not in the poll or not even posed by you, of the 3 of 10 is HOW has gay marriage negatively impacted you? HOW MANY gay married couples do you know? Once the bigots answer that John you want have to twist and turn so much and your blog might actually mean something and have merit.

    • kitty

      Those are my thoughts exactly. How does it have any negative impact at all? I don’t care who marries who. Has no impact on me at all. Let people live their own lives and quit telling everybody else how to live theirs.

    • Jim Hammerle

      I have never heard anyone explain HOW gay marriage has ANY impact on them.

    • Peg Johnson

      I think roaming bands of gay married couples invaded homes and tastefully redecorated them. I do think romaning hoards of wild married gay women advanced on Mall shoe stores wiping out the entire stock of Sensible black shoes. What is a normal hetero person to do? Oh My its terrible, horrible. I cannot even by any stretch of my imagination figure out how the actions of other people who happen to be gay will impact on these folks? More evangelical hypocracy I think.

  5. Progressive Wing

    If “people lie to pollsters,” than that 44-49 number is a tad worthless too, no?

    Please understand that I am not saying that a new SSM Amendment vote would end in favor of SSM. What I am saying is (1) that just how the entire nation seems to have gotten so much more accepting of SSM over the last 3 years, so might have NC, and (2) that polls and referendums just don’t count anymore on this issue. What counts is how the federal courts rule.

  6. John Wynne

    People lie to pollsters. Also, the 56% almost certainly includes people who are opposed to gay marriage but admit they haven’t been affected by its legalization. The 44-49 number came from another survey. Given that polls in the past have consistently overestimated support for gay marriage (the larger than anticipated result for Amendment 1 is an example of this), I’d guess that those in opposition to gay marriage are a majority of NC residents and only about 45% are really, truly in favor of it. A couple years ago it was something like 25%-35% support.

    • keith

      Depending on the wording of the question, asking if legalization of gay marriage had a positive or negative impact on one’s life is irrelevant for almost everyone. If one interprets the question as meaning a direct impact, then very few people would have had direct impact so far (ie, gay people who newly got married or have renewed hopes and plans to marry, people that derive great personal warmth from improved gay marriage prospects of friends). Many, probably most, people will have an opinion on whether gay marriage is good or bad but this is based on indirect, if any, impact on their lives. I conduct surveys with a desire to get objective input on health care and health status and people lie, as you said. A much more important factor for the professional surveying a population is that individual interpretations of question are both varied and influenced by the tone of the question. This is why and how campaigns and causes manipulate questions and/or audiences to get the responses they want.

  7. Progressive Wing

    Aw, come on, John. How can you cite that 56% in the PPP poll say SSM has had no impact at all and 14% say it has had a positive impact, then cite the PRRI survey showing a close split of 44% – 49% (I’ll guess close to the poll’s margin of error), and then draw the conclusion that a new state referendum would likely result in a 56-44 vote against SSM???

    OK, OK. I’ll admit that such a result could happen if the NCGA GOP poo-bahs ramrodded legislation through that requires referendum voting to take place only at churches and only after Sunday services, not within 15 miles of any college campus, and not in any legislative district currently represented in the NCGA by a Democrat. Sure, I’m joking, but look out—there’s that religious freedom bill working it’s way through the NCGA, and Republicans have already proven themselves to be quite adroit at passing exclusionary laws when it comes to voter eligibility.

    And, BTW, who gives a flying fudgicle how NC’ers might vote on the matter? Haven’t you figured out that the matter will not be resolved at the ballot box, but rather in the courts? Let there be no doubt; as SSM is clearly an American civil rights issue, the federal courts are the appropriately place where the issue will be resolved.

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