April 5, 2012 at 11:38 pm EDT | by Steve Charing
Voters split on marriage support: poll

Marylanders are split on a possible November referendum. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A new poll released March 28 indicates that Marylanders are evenly split when it comes to the legalization of same-sex marriage. An independent survey conducted by OpinionWorks of 601 registered Maryland voters from March 16-19 shows that 40 percent support same-sex marriage and 43 percent do not. The margin of error is 4 percent, making it a statistical dead heat.

“Although this result is within the poll’s margin of error, it is the intensity of feeling among same-sex marriage opponents that causes the overall result to lean slightly toward repeal,” Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks,” said in a statement.

He pointed out that 37 percent of those polled “strongly” wanted to repeal the law that was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley on March 1. On the other hand, 31 percent “strongly” support the law.

In Baltimore City, voters oppose marriage equality 49 to 35 percent. African Americans statewide oppose marriage equality by 48 to 29 percent, according to the poll.

Weekly churchgoers are in opposition by 58 to 28 percent. Voters on the Eastern Shore are heavily against the law by 72 to 14 percent. And those over age 65 oppose marriage equality by 54 to 32 percent. But women favor the law over men by a solid 47-33 margin. Democrats and independents out-support Republicans 46 to 26 percent.

Raabe told the Blade that because the data reveal a close contest, any major action to change the current dynamic could result in the defeat of the referendum effort. For example, if President Obama were to publicly embrace marriage equality, it could influence those African Americans who are “soft” on the issue.

He believes that voters with the strongest feelings have already declared their positions. “The referendum battle will be waged over the small number in the middle who may be coming out to vote in the presidential race, but for whom this issue is not do or die.”

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