Pundits: Money and religion won out

May 8, 2012 

The News & Observer asked area political pundits to share their reaction to Tuesday’s election results. Here are their thoughts:

John N. Davis, political analyst and editor of the Raleigh-based John Davis Political Report: “At a time of economic crisis it was politically risky for Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to initiate a statewide constitutional vote on a social issue like the Marriage Amendment. However, thanks to their landslide victory on May 8, the state GOP will now enjoy a win-win of the highest order. They win the loyalty and enthusiastic support of their elated social and religious conservatives, and they neutralized the issue as fodder for Democrats in the General Election. By this fall, the Marriage Amendment controversy will be old news to just about everyone except those elated social and religious conservatives. Their victory will continue to motivate them all year to do the hard work of winning campaigns for conservatives.”

John Hood, president and chairman of the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based conservative think tank that issues policy studies: “The powers that be, Republican and Democrat, ended up determining the outcome of the marriage amendment by scheduling it for May rather than for the general election. Younger voters were always going to be a relatively small share of the primary vote. Without strong participation from them, the opposition never really had a chance. More generally, the 2012 primary results have validated the accuracy of pre-election polling, the importance of money, and the atypical nature of the 2008 primary electorate.”

Gary Pearce, veteran Democrat strategist in Raleigh who blogs at Talking About Politics: “Money was the big winner Tuesday: Walter Dalton’s money, labor money for Linda Coleman and superPAC money for George Holding. The marriage referendum was all about religion.”

Andy Taylor, political scientist at N.C. State University: “The constitutional amendment was passed as predicted, with rural counties overwhelming the opposition in places like Wake, Mecklenburg, and college towns like Chapel Hill, Asheville and Boone. I did think the “noes” would do a little better. North Carolina is still a socially conservative state, even if it does not always appear that way in the context of the South. I don’t think this says much about Obama’s chances in November, however. At first glance, it seems as though a large number of African-Americans voted for the amendment.”

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