Friday, August 10, 2012

Maryland Marriage Equality Supporters Send Direct Mail Opposing Casino Expansion Plan // Turnout Dynamics in Flux

An anonymous reader has sent Maryland Juice news that a national LGBT rights organization is sending direct mail encouraging Free State residents to oppose a proposed gambling referendum this November. Our source points us to an article in the Towleroad blog discussing the contentious and unpredictable dynamics between the competing referenda (excerpt below):
TOWLEROAD: Two very different ballot issues, gambling and marriage equality, are finding their streams crossed in Maryland, where the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Action Fund Maryland Political Action Committee has sent a mailer to pro-equality voters asking them to vote "no" on a proposed ballot measure that would expand gambling in the Old Line State. Voters there will decide this fall whether to keep or toss a law allowing same-sex marriage....

Indeed, this November, Maryland voters could vote on up to four statewide referenda (marriage equality, Dream Act, redistricting, and gambling), along with possible local issue referenda. Legislators are meeting today to debate whether to put gambling expansion on the ballot in November. In a previous News Channel 8 appearance, Maryland Juice noted that LGBT activists were nervous about a gambling referendum driving up anti-LGBT turnout. Those worries were apparently real. The BuzzFeed website has a copy of the mail piece, along with commentary from a spokesperson at the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and from the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign (excerpts below):

Anti-gambling referendum mail piece. Source: BuzzFeed.

BUZZFEED: ...The Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign took issue with the mailer, with campaign manager Josh Levin telling BuzzFeed, "Turnout in heavily Democratic Maryland will be determined by the presidential race – not any other issue, including gambling should it be on the ballot. Opponents of the gambling expansion are clearly using the marriage issue for their own political gain. What's important here, however, is that we remain focused on expanding our 14-point lead and growing the momentum for marriage in Maryland...."

The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart reported recently that a supporter of the gambling measure, MGM Resorts International, provided polling that found the gambling measure's impact could even be a net benefit for supporters of the marriage equality law....
[The Task Force's communications director, Inga Sarda-Sorensen] tells BuzzFeed, "The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund believes an uncluttered ballot is the best ballot, and provides for the best chance for securing marriage equality in Maryland."

Indeed, The Washington Post recently published survey results commissioned by casino operator MGM arguing that a gambling referendum may be a net gain for marriage equality proponents (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Pollsters also asked the “700 voters representing the likely 2012 Maryland electorate” how they would vote on a marriage-equality referendum. They found that supporters of gaming are also more likely to favor the marriage referendum.

Voters who plan to vote yes on the gaming amendment support the marriage referendum by a 63%-29% margin (a net 34 points in favor), while gaming amendment opponents oppose the marriage referendum by a 34%-54% margin (a net 20 points opposed).

“Thus,” the memo concludes, “fears that the gaming amendment will suppress support for the marriage referendum are unwarranted.”

Note that MGM is not a disinterested observer, given that they are planning on building a mega-casino at Prince George's County's National Harbor site.

More on the emerging referenda dynamics soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment