May 13, 2012

AP Coverage of Dem Mess in North Carolina Falsely Gives GOP Voters Sole Credit for Traditional Marriage Amendment’s Passage

VoteForMarriageNC0512Let’s grant that Associated Press reporter Mitch Weiss, in his dispatch Saturday on the headache Democratic National Convention host state North Carolina has become for the left, acknowledged by quoting someone else that “Nobody can sugarcoat the fact that we got problems here.” That said, the AP reporter applied quite a bit of sweetener with generous pinches of distortion in several instances. The biggest howler was the patently falsely impression he gave that the constitutional amendment approved by voters on Tuesday limiting marriage to one-man, one-woman relationships achieved success solely because of a “fired-up Republican base,” when the support for it had to be far broader for it to achieve its 61.06%-38.84% victory margin (scroll to the very bottom at the link; the state’s Board of Elections would appear to be quite unhappy with the result).

Additionally, Weiss characterized the Tar Heel State as one which “offers few protections for workers,” apparently because it’s a right to work state; claimed that unemployment is “much higher in some rural counties” than the statewide average (9.7% seasonally adjusted, 9.6% unadjusted) when the proper term would have been “many” or “dozens of”; and, concerning Governor Bev Perdue, wrote that “Democrats say” she would have lost if she had chosen to run for reelection this year, when the truth is that anyone with eyes, including Perdue, could see it coming (but apparently only what “Democrats say” matters). Relevant paragraphs follow the jump:

North Carolina a political headache for Democrats

Once a bright spot for President Barack Obama, North Carolina is now more like a political migraine less than four months before Democrats open the party’s national convention in Charlotte.

The causes are plenty.

Labor unions, a core Democratic constituency, are up in arms. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue isn’t running for re-election; Democrats say she was likely to lose. The state Democratic Party is in disarray over an explosive sexual harassment scandal. Voters recently approved amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage, a position that runs counter to Obama’s. And unemployment in the state remains persistently high.

… Criticism began immediately after Charlotte was announced.

Many labor leaders were upset that the convention would be held in a state that offers few protections for workers and in a city with no union hotels. While some unions plan to attend, more than a dozen trade unions are boycotting. Union protests also are planned for convention week.

… State unemployment was 9.7 percent in March, well above the national average of 8.2 percent that month, and it’s much higher in some rural counties.

There’s also the fired-up Republican base that turned out Tuesday to approve the constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Let’s address the three key points: worker “protections,” rural unemployment, and the same-sex “marriage” amendment.

North Carolina is a right-to-work state, meaning that workers are protected from having to join a union to be employed in certain jobs. Non right-to-work states force workers who don’t wish to belong to a union to pay union dues anyway. If Weiss wanted to say that the state isn’t right-to-work, he should have just said so. If he’s going to expand the topic into general worker “protections,” perhaps he should have his colleagues look into how well workers were protected at a factory run by “a designer who’s facing a class action suit in federal court for allegedly running a sweatshop where garment workers were forced to work 100 hour weeks in a factory with conditions ‘comparable to those of third world countries’ while being subjected to racial discrimination, verbal abuse and threats.” The operation involved happens to be in New York, a closed-shop state.

According to an interactive map of March county unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) found at WRAL, four counties had unemployment rates higher than 15%, while the rate in 20 others exceeded 12%. An eyeball review of the graphic’s 9%-12% layer indicates that 14 other counties had rates exceeding 11%, bringing the total to 38. This isn’t “some” counties. It’s “dozens” or “many” of them.

The “Republican base” as the sole reason why Amendment 1 prevailed is an easily disproven myth:

  • African-Americans make up 21.5% of the Tar Heel State’s population. A Politico item by Joseph Williams on Wednesday noted that 95% of the state’s African-Americans voted for Obama in 2008, and that “Public Policy Polling projected 60-65 percent of African-Americans would vote in favor of the ban.” Nobody did any exit polling (how convenient).
  • Even if one were to absurdly insist that every African-American voter who didn’t vote for Obama supported Amendment 1, that would mean that 55%-60% of Obama’s African-American supporters in 2008 voted for it. The midpoint is not far below the Tar Heel State’s overall result.
  • Tuesday’s results tell us that 959,000 and 927,000 Democrats voted in the presidential and gubernatorial primary races respectively; the comparable numbers in the Republican primary were 967,000 and 892,000. While this roughly 50-50 result indicates greater enthusiasm among Republican in a state where there are almost 40% more registered Democrats (2.739 million vs. 1.977 million), the fact remains, as confirmed in this pre-election poll graphic obtained from PPP (full final poll of likely primary voters, a large PDF, is here), that at least 40% of Democrats overall had to have voted for Amendment 1; apply a little math, and one sees that at least 30% of other Democrats had to be among its supporters. Without at least that level of support, there is no way the amendment could have achieved a victory margin of 22 points, six points higher than PPP’s pre-election 16-point estimate.

But it seems that it was more important for the AP’s Weiss to portray the same-sex marriage issue as the exclusive province of supposedly bigoted, homophobic Republicans than it was to, y’know, tell the truth.

Cross-posted at


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