Ballot question on same-sex marriage would influence N.J. voter turnout

Political analysts say a referendum on gay marriage would influence voter turnout in the November election in New Jersey.


Gov. Chris Christie proposed putting the issue of same-sex marriage to a vote after saying he would veto the marriage equality bill that’s expected to come up for a vote in the full Legislature later this month.

Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin says a referendum would cause more social conservatives to participate in the election.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“It would be perhaps an ancillary benefit to Republicans if they had this on the ballot,” Dworkin said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily a motivation, but it would certainly impact the demographics of who would show up to the polls in November.”

Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray says a higher turnout of conservative voters probably wouldn’t be enough for the Republican candidate for president to win New Jersey but it could influence the outcome of the race for U.S. Senate.

“I think that’s where they think that even if it’s an Obama win in New Jersey, that if they can keep it close, there’s a possibility that Joe Kyrillos could defeat Bob Menendez for the Senate seat,” Murray said.

Analysts say speculation is probably just an academic exercise; Democrats who control the Legislature maintain marriage equality is a civil-rights issue and will not vote to put it on the ballot.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal