According to PPP's just-released polling, Democrat Liz Mathis is ahead of Republican Cindy Golding by a margin of 52% - 46%. Good news indeed, but special election polls, even those done by PPP, are inherently subject to a lot of error, and six percent is not enough to be all that confident of the outcome.
If Mathis wins, marriage equality is safe for several years, even though, paradoxically, PPP shows that the voters in her district oppose it 46% - 42%. That's because Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has pledged to keep a vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa from reaching the floor of the Senate as long as he is in control.
But, if Golding wins, all bets are off. The Senate will no longer be controlled by Democrats, there will be a 25-25 tie. No one knows exactly what will happen, and it is unclear if Gronstal will be able to prevent a vote from taking place. (See this diary for more details.) Since there are a few conservaDems to go along with a solid block of Republicans opposing marriage equality (surprise!), a vote being taken would almost certainly result in the amendment being passed by the Senate and then signed by the Republican Governor, having already passed the Republican House.
All would not be lost; it would still have to pass a subsequent session of the Legislature, which couldn't happen until 2013. And then it would be subject to a vote of the people at a later date; it would be anyone's guess, given the polling now, how they would vote at some point in the future.
Nevertheless, it would far better to derail this altogether or at least hold off on a potential Republican-controlled legislature passing the amendment for the first time until 2013. That would mean a subsequent Legislature couldn't pass it until 2015 providing more time for demographic change (or, more crudely put, for those opposed to marriage equality who, statistically, are the oldest, to die off).
Nationally, marriage equality also hangs by a thread, so to speak. But it's a thickening, golden thread. There have been at least eight different polling organizations that have taken polls on Americans' attitude toward same-sex marriage this year. Here is each organization's latest poll of American adults:
|Poller||Result||Date of Poll|
|Pew||46% - 44%||11/03|
|AP||53% - 44%||8/23|
|PRRI||47% - 47%||8/29|
|ABC/WaPo||51% - 45%||7/20|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner||51% - 46%||7/16|
|Gallup||53% - 45%||5/19|
|CNN||51% - 47%||4/13|
|General Social Survey||46% - 40%||2/25|
So tantalizingly close! While the American adult population favors legalized same-sex marriage beyond the margin of error by a five percentage point spread, We are not quite yet at a majority. Still, it is beyond doubt that only a minority is actually against marriage equality, and there is almost no question that in the next year or two we will get to a clear majority.