How Will Amendment One Affect Primary Voting?

If you live in North Carolina and aren't living in utter seclusion, you're aware that the "Marriage Amendment" is on the ballot in today's primary. Normally a primary held after the presidential nominees have alreay been determined would draw only the hard core party faithful, but because of the amendment there's been an extraordinary amount of attention paid to this year's primary and it will be interesting to see how that affects the results.

Some questions to ponder:

  • In a state where 25% of the voters are independent how many of those unaffiliated voters will be drawn to the primaries because of the amendment?
  • Democrats make up 43%, and Republicans 31%, of registered voters. If independents decide to participate more heavily in the Republican primaries will they affect the outcome of some close races for NC Senate/House, city councils, county commissions, etc.?  
  • With either the Democratic or Republican primaries will the participation of independents skew the votes towards more centrist candidates?
  • If the independents participate more heavily in the Republican primary they will likely have a greater impact since there's a smaller pool of Republican voters. Assuming the independents will lean more towards the center will their participation hurt the more conservative candidates? If so, will the conservative Republicans' strategy of putting the Amendment on the primary ballot end up being viewed as a mistake in hindsight, even if it passes?

The 2008 primary was dramatic on the Democratic ticket because the presidential nomination was still up in the air at the time, but this year's primaries are dramatic all the way around due to the amendment. The debate about the direct consequences of the amendment has been well documented, but there hasn't been much exploration of the potential collateral damage the amendment might incur politically, and it will be fascinating to see how it shakes out.

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