Title page for ETD etd-04272011-155810

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Dunphy, James
Author's Email Address jdunph1@gmail.com
URN etd-04272011-155810
Title Gay-Marriage in 2004 U.S. Presidential Election
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Hogan, Robert Committee Chair
Clark, William Committee Member
Garand, James Committee Member
  • initiatives
  • gay-marriage
  • 2004 election
  • values voters
  • evangelicals
  • Bush
  • vote choice
  • turnout
  • marriage amendments
Date of Defense 2011-04-15
Availability unrestricted
This thesis looks at the factors that affected individual turnout and vote choice in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Regarding the outcome of the election, a point of dispute among scholars pertains to whether evangelical Christians played a meaningful role in helping re-elect then-President Bush to a second term in 2004. The gay-marriage issue played a prominent role in the presidential campaign, due in part to a ruling the Massachusetts Supreme Court rendered in November 2003 that legalized the marrying of same-sex couples within the stateís borders. The Courtís decision had a reverberating effect, particularly among evangelicals, and subsequently, it affected the presidential campaign as well.

Christian conservatives were successful in organizing efforts to get initiatives and referenda designed to constitutionally ban recognition of same-sex marriages on the ballot in 11 states, all of which passed easily in November. Using a large and previously untapped dataset, I develop a research design that builds on work by Campbell and Monson (2008), which shows that evangelicals who lived in a state with a marriage amendment on the ballot in November had a higher level of mobilization for Bush than other evangelicals.

Contrary to those findings, I find that the marriage amendments in 2004 had no substantive impact on turnout or vote choice. Moreover, evangelicals living in marriage states were not more likely to turn out or vote for Bush in 2004, controlling for other relevant characteristics of the voters. Factors that influenced turnout in the 2004 election include: party identification strength, education, income, age, gender, region, and residence in a battleground state. Party identification, ideology, and race were predictors of vote choice in the 2004 election.

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