Few of the Pro-LGBT Ballot Measure Campaigns on Same-Sex Marriage Have Been Competitive

In 28 of the 35 anti-gay ballot measures related to same-sex marriage to date, the pro-LGBT side did not run competitive campaigns. They did not amass the resources needed to communicate frequently with voters.

Evidence of Non-Competitiveness

This report compares expenditures in each campaign, divided by the number of congressional districts in the state, to the sum considered minimal to compete in a congressional district. Congressional districts across the country are roughly comparable units, having by law very close to identical populations.

The Cost of a Congressional Seat

Although the total expenditures of successful congressional campaigns vary by location and time, the Campaign Finance Institute has calculated the average “price of a congressional seat.” Its data, available online at http://www.cfinst.org/data/pdf/VitalStats_t1.pdf and reproduced below, examines the average cost of a congressional campaign over the past 24 years. The average cost in “2008 dollars” corrected for inflation has risen from $700,000 in 1986 to $1.4 million in 2008. Conceptually, a “House Winner” would have succeeded in communicating with voters enough to actually win the seat.

The Threshold Chosen for This Report’s Analysis

Not wanting to err in the direction of characterizing a campaign “non-competitive,” this report selected the threshold of $500,000 per congressional district in expenditures made by the pro-LGBT side to establish the floor of what can be considered a competitive pro-LGBT campaign.

Seven Competitive LGBT Ballot Measure Campaigns

Applying this threshold, seven of the 35 pro-LGBT campaigns on marriage were competitive:

Maine, Question 1, 2009;

California, Proposition 8, 2008;

Wisconsin, Referendum 1, 2006;

Colorado, Amendment 43, 2006;

Colorado, Referendum I, 2006;

Oregon, Ballot Measure 36, 2004; and

Hawaii, Constitutional Amendment 2, 1998.

They are highlighted in the table below in gray. Colorado’s Ref. I is included in the list of marriage measures even though its subject matter was domestic partnership because it was on the ballot at the same time as Amendment 43, a vote on same-sex marriage, and both became part of the larger discourse on marriage. The pro-LGBT side lost each election except the 2006 Arizona Prop 107 which was largely reversed in 2008 with Prop 102.

Implications

For analytical purposes, it is a mistake to lump together competitive and non-competitive campaigns to assess the effectiveness of voter persuasion. Non-competitive campaigns are very unlikely to persuade voters; in a data set including all 35 measures, the preponderance of the non-competitive campaigns can obscure more successful efforts at persuasion by the much smaller number of competitive campaigns.

Campaign Finance Institute – The Cost of a Congressional Seat



Competitive LGBT Ballot Measure Campaigns

Year

State

Ballot Measure

$ spent by Anti-gay

$ spent by pro-gay

# of districts

pro-gay money / district

% anti-gay

% pro-gay

2009

Maine

Question 1

$    3,070,000.00

$  4,565,000.00

2

$   2,282,500.00

52.75%

47.25%

2008

California

Proposition 8

$   38,322,850.94

$ 39,642,911.00

53

$     747,979.45

52.30%

47.70%

2008

Florida

Amendment 2

$    1,607,802.92

$  3,720,315.93

25

$     148,812.64

62.10%

37.90%

2008

Arizona

Proposition 102

$    7,600,000.00

$   450,000.00

8

$      56,250.00

56.20%

43.80%

2006

Arizona

Proposition 107

$    1,019,143.00

$  1,831,504.00

8

$     228,938.00

48.20%

51.80%

2006

South Dakota

Amendment C

$      123,166.00

$   171,578.00

1

$     171,578.00

52.00%

48.00%

2006

Virginia

Marshall-Newman Amendment

$      413,490.00

$  1,545,257.00

11

$     140,477.91

57.00%

43.00%

2006

South Carolina

Amendment 1

$      116,122.00

$   486,549.00

6

$      81,091.50

78.00%

22.00%

2006

Tennessee

Amendment 1

$      299,279.00

$   158,814.00

9

$      17,646.00

81.30%

18.70%

2006

Wisconsin

Referendum 1

$      669,251.00

$  4,982,745.00

8

$     622,843.13

59.00%

41.00%

2006

Colorado

Amendment 43

$    1,376,485.00

$  5,458,995.00

7

$     779,856.43

55.00%

45.00%

2006

Colorado

Referendum I

$    1,027,777.00

$  5,112,495.00

7

$     730,356.43

52.35%

47.65%

2006

Alabama

Constitutional Amendment 774

-

-

7

 

81.00%

19.00%

2006

Idaho

Amendment 2

$       39,000.00

$   106,378.00

2

$      53,189.00

63.00%

37.00%

2005

Kansas

Amendment 1

$      158,729.00

$   106,011.00

4

$      26,502.75

70.00%

30.00%

2005

Texas

Proposition 2

$      505,992.00

$   782,409.00

32

$      24,450.28

76.25%

23.74%

2004

Missouri

Constitutional Amendment 2

$       29,613.00

$   488,189.00

9

$      54,243.22

72.00%

28.00%

2004

Louisiana

Constitutional Amendment 1

$       43,117.00

$    23,547.00

7

$       3,363.86

78.00%

22.00%

2004

Ohio

State Issue 1

$    1,202,762.00

$   942,421.00

18

$      52,356.72

62.00%

38.00%

2004

Oregon

Oregon Ballot Measure 36

$    2,455,816.00

$  2,967,012.00

5

$     593,402.40

57.00%

43.00%

2004

Mississippi

Mississippi Amendment 1

$        7,215.00

$           -

4

$            -

86.00%

14.00%

2004

Utah

Constitutional Amendment 3

$      522,000.00

$   780,000.00

3

$     260,000.00

66.00%

34.00%

2004

Kentucky

Constitutional Amendment 1

$      201,370.00

$   522,864.00

6

$      87,144.00

75.00%

25.00%

2004

Georgia

Constitutional Amendment 1

$       92,765.00

$           -

13

$            -

57.00%

43.00%

2004

Michigan

State Proposal 04-2

$    1,931,409.00

$   854,212.00

15

$      56,947.47

59.00%

41.00%

2004

Montana

Montana Initiative 96

$       10,700.00

$    51,500.00

1

$      51,500.00

67.00%

33.00%

2004

Oklahoma

State Question 711

$       21,644.00

$    11,616.00

5

$       2,323.20

76.00%

24.00%

2004

Arkansas

Constitutional Amendment 3

$      334,731.00

$     2,952.00

4

$        738.00

75.00%

25.00%

2004

North Dakota

Constitutional Amendment 1

$             -

$     8,974.00

1

$       8,974.00

73.00%

27.00%

2002

Nevada

Nevada Question 2

$    1,188,591.00

$    61,663.00

3

$      20,554.33

66.90%

33.10%

2000

Nevada

Nevada Question 2

$      973,844.00

$    36,994.00

3

$      12,331.33

69.62%

30.38%

2000

Nebraska

Initiative Measure 416

$      864,079.00

$   202,563.00

3

$      67,521.00

70.00%

30.00%

2000

California

Proposition 22

$    8,422,913.00

$  4,829,543.00

53

$      91,123.45

61.20%

38.80%

1998

Alaska

Ballot Measure 2

$      616,916.00

$   212,231.00

1

$     212,231.00

68.11%

31.89%

1998

Hawaii

Constitutional Amendment 2

 $    1,464,922.74

 $  1,469,584.53

2

$     734,792.27

69.00%

31.00%