Looking over the data and reviewing the race in Maryland there are clearly three reasons we won the state of Maryland. Of course, the end result was we convinced the voters of "The Free State" to vote for full equality. And without question, the fine work of the amazing campaign staff and thousands of volunteers who gave their time and money. Also in a close race, so many different groups can take credit. Those factors are a given.
In reviewing the campaign the last couple of days, there are three major underlying reasons that made it all possible.
1. The Endorsement Of Marriage Equality by President Obama:
Over 30% of Maryland's voters are African-American and historically the LGBT community has lost those votes when it came to marriage equality sometimes by margins ranging from 60% to 70% depending on the state. When President Obama endorsed marriage equality the political landscape changed almost overnight.
It enabled brave allies like NAACP's Benjamin Jealous and the amazing Julian Bond to take the lead in building a powerful coalition that built more support than ever before in the African-American community. We still have a long way to go since Prince George's County with a heavy black population voted overwhelmingly for the President while they narrowly voted against marriage equality. However it was a major shift from before the President's endorsement.
2. The Leadership Of Governor Martin O'Malley
In many ways, Maryland was sort of last on the list after Maine, Minnesota and Washington where initially most of our national organizations resources were focused. There was real doubt if Maryland would in the end vote for marriage equality. In the last couple of months, Governor Martin O'Malley never doubted that results and personally took to the phones to raise money, campaigned hard around the state and insisted that it could be won. Without his excellent leadership marriage equality would not exist in Maryland today.
Yep, in some very key counties it was clear that those who voted for Mitt Romney overwhelmingly also ended up supporting marriage equality. Walter Olsen, who is a senior fellow at the conservative Cato Institute, wrote a column for the Huffington Post on the data about Republicans and marriage equality in Maryland. Here is an excerpt:
* Two major bulwarks of Republican strength in Maryland, Anne Arundel and Frederick Counties, went both for Romney and for same-sex marriage. The two counties have been home to some of the state's best- known anti-gay politicians, such as Del. Don Dwyer of Anne Arundel and former Sen. Alex Mooney of Frederick. Frederick County especially, where I live, is famed as a right-wing stronghold: this year, for example, it sided with conservative Republican Senate challenger Dan Bongino, even as Bongino was going down by a two-to-one margin to incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin statewide. And as it backed the Romney-Bongino ticket, Frederick County was breaking in favor of gay marriage 51-49. In Anne Arundel, the margin was 52-48 in favor of marriage for everyone, the same as that in the state overall. Romney carried Anne Arundel by a point.
If ever a Republican county in Maryland deserved the label "rock-ribbed," it would be Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore, which gave Mitt more than a two-to-one margin over Barack Obama, his best showing aside from the state's far western Panhandle. Close behind would be affluent Queen Anne's County across the Bay Bridge from Annapolis, which returned almost as good a showing for the former Massachusetts governor, and Harford and Cecil Counties northeast of Baltimore, which gave him still very impressive 3:2 margins over his Democratic opponent.
None of this group of counties went for Question 6: they're simply too Republican, and support for same-sex marriage is distinctly a minority position among Republicans. What they did all do was to generate substantial swing votes in favor of gay marriage by voters who hadn't gone for Obama. In Carroll, Question 6 ran a remarkable 11 points ahead of the president, in Queen Anne's 10 points ahead, in Harford and Cecil 5 points, and in Frederick and Anne Arundel 3 to 4 points. Collectively these counties contributed tens of thousands more votes for Question 6 than if gay marriage had been, as you might put it, only as popular as the chief executive of the United States. And this actually understates matters, since in every county some voters were splitting tickets in the opposite direction, meaning that pro-6 switchers had to be more numerous than 11 (or 10 or 5) percent for the overall effect to net out at that level.