Nate Silver's Forecast Is Very Optimistic About Same-Sex Marriage

Categories: LGBT

Anna Latino/SF Examiner
Nate Silver is less than a god but more than a man.

After November's presidential election, the bossman at the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog became best known for correctly predicting the electoral outcomes of all 50 states. His forecast models became legendary.

Of course, he had previously been best known for correctly predicting the 2008 electoral outcomes of 49 states. So, in the weeks leading up to Obama v. Romney, when Silver's formulas predicted that the incumbent would take Nevada... Pennsylvania... Ohio... even Florida, liberals everywhere found it easier to sleep at night.

Now, as the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, Silver has once again posted numbers that might sooth liberal folks' nerves. When it comes to shifting public opinion on gay marriage, Mr. FiveThirtyEight's forecast is wildly optimistic.

See Also: Here Are the Best "Screw You, Scalia" Tweets We've Read

Proposition 8 Hearing in Supreme Court

Silver used 2008 exit polling data from California, Florida, and Arizona-- which each had same-sex marriage ballot initiatives that year-- and "applied logistic regression to analyze how more than a dozen demographic characteristics affected these voters' decisions on same-sex marriage. In essence, the technique is to predict how likely an individual voter is to support same-sex marriage given their particular demographic profile."

From there, he stretched the demographic profile prediction across all 50 states and Washington D.C. That showed that in 2008 eight states plus D.C. had more than 50 percent support for same-sex marriage. He then extrapolated that model through 2020, adding the historical trend "that support for same-sex marriage will continue to increase by one-and-a-half percentage points nationally per year," a projected rate that varies based on a state's number of swing voters.

By 2020, according to that model, 44 states plus D.C. will support a pro same-sex marriage ballot initiative. Among them: Kansas (55.1), Texas (52.4), Kentucky (54.4), Oklahoma (51.2), and Utah (54.2). Nationally, 60.5 percent of Americans will support gay marriage.

Two-thirds of Californians will, too. But that would still put us closer to the center than 11 other states, including Rhode Island (75 percent) and Massachusetts (74.5).

For same-sex marriage supporters, these numbers might make SCOTUS' decision on Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act feel less ultimate. As long as public support keeps pace, gay rights legislation will inevitably follow.

But it's not necessarily that simple. Nate Cohn, at The New Republic, counters that Silver's gay marriage forecast likely overstates the trend-line for support in the South. He argues that the marriage equality push in in the Bible Belt will eventually run into a wall -- there are only so many open-minds to sway.

He concluded:

With evangelicals slower to change their minds, Southern states should move at a slower pace than the national average. To date, support for gay marriage has increased at a roughly linear rate of 2 points per year. But it's possible that increases in support could slow in the medium-term, as non-evangelical groups hit the point of diminishing returns. If evangelicals don't pick up the slack by shifting faster on gay marriage, support for gay marriage could plateau. Parts of the South, Plains, and West would probably still have gay marriage bans, and the Supreme Court, despite its hopes to avoid a judgment, might be forced to make the final call.

We'll have to wait nearly a decade to see if Silver's model pans out. In the meantime, the race between public opinion and legal policy pushes forward.

My Voice Nation Help

    FOR GAYS ONLY:  Jesus predicted that just before His return as Judge, there will be a strange, spontaneous, mind-twisting fad - a global steamroller notable for its speed, boldness, violence, and impudent in-your-face openness. In Luke 17 He called this worldwide craze the repeat of the "days of Lot" (see Genesis 19 for details). By helping to fulfill this worldwide mania quietly coordinated by unseen spirit beings, gays are actually hurrying up Christ's return to earth and making the Bible even more believable!
     They've actually invented strange architecture: closets opening not on to bedrooms but on to Main Streets where kids can see naked men having sex in "Madam" Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco Brothel District. We wonder how soon S.F.'s underground saint - San Andreas - will get a 10-point jolt out of what goes on over his head (see the dire prediction about cities in Revelation 16:19)!
     What's really scary is the "reprobate mind" phrase in Romans 1:28. A person can sear his conscience so much God turns him over to S, the universal leader of evil who can turn such a person into Mr. Possessed with a super-human strength that many cops together have trouble restraining.
     Remember, gays don't have to stay bound to their slavery. Their emancipation is found in a 5-letter name starting with J - no, not James or Julia. As soon as they can find out the all-powerful J name, gays will really start living! 

Now Trending

San Francisco Concert Tickets

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.