Nate Silver Predicts Georgia Will Be One of Only 6 States Opposed to Gay Marriage By 2020


Polling prognosticator Nate Silver, whose fivethirtyeight blog on the New York Times’ website grew to prominence after his spot-on predictions about the 2012 presidential election, released another bold prediction coinciding with the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage Wednesday.

Silver’s polling data showed that by 2020 only six states will have a larger number of citizens opposed to same-sex marriage than in favor. Georgia, which in 2012 had only 38.2 percent of residents in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry, would be one of the remaining states still opposed to the practice in seven years. The other states expected to remain opposed are South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

Every other state in the union, according to Silver, will have a majority in favor.

“This model predicts the results of the 2012 ballot propositions quite accurately, accounting for some of the more subtle demographic distinctions that we had lost previously,” Silver wrote of his model.

The predictive poll was based on a projection of how attitudes in each state are expected to change over time. The model assumes that support for same-sex marriage will continue to increase by one and a half percentage points nationally each year, which is a reflection of trends from both polling and ballot-initiative data, he said.

“The steadiness of the trend seems consistent with the idea that the shifts are partly generational, with younger Americans gradually replacing older ones in the electorate,” said Silver. “However, some voters have also changed their opinion to favor same-sex marriage while fewer have done the reverse, as can be seen in surveys that track generational cohorts over time.”

In a show of the continuing discord between Georgia’s state representatives and those in the city of Atlanta, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed struck far different tones in response to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling to throw out the Defense of Marriage Act’s Section 3.

Reed lauded the decision, calling it “a courageous decision” and “an enormous victory for loving, married couples and their families.”

Olens, conversely, said he disagreed with the Court’s decision, and noted that it would have very little impact on marriage rights within the state.

“Today’s decision rests on the basic assumption – with which I strongly agree – that the power to define marriage is a power traditionally reserved to the States,” Olens said in a statement. “The decision does not affect existing state definitions of marriage; in fact, it explicitly says that it is limited to marriages recognized by states as lawful. The definition of marriage adopted by Georgia’s voters is unaffected by today’s decision.”

Read the full results of the polls, along with Silver’s thoughts on how changing demographics and voting patterns will affect the status same-sex marriage in the future.

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