Yesterday the North Carolina Senate, with no Republicans in support, passed a bill dealing with school bullying that specifically named sexual orientation (real or perceived) as something that kids might be bullied for.
We've done two polls on the sexual orientation provision in the last year, showing 69% support for it in March 2009 and 72% support in July 2008.
It's no surprise that Democrats were strongly supportive of the bill in each instance, but so were a strong majority of independents- 72% in July and 62% in March and even a majority of Republicans- 58% last summer and 51% this spring.
Even specifically among conservative Republicans 48% supported it and 55% of moderate Republicans did. Yet there was not a single vote in the Senate to be had from their party.
This is a pretty good example of how legislative Republicans marginalize themselves and why Democrats have generally been able to keep control of the legislature in election years that otherwise went very well for the GOP. The truth is that the issues they choose to lose sleep over are outside the mainstream of even much of the Republican base.
The GOP already has a huge problem with moderates in North Carolina. On our most recent poll just 21% of them identified as Republicans, with 54% Democrats and 25% independents. Claiming that protecting gay kids from getting beat up is a gateway to legalized gay marriage is not likely to help them much with that problem, and indeed is more likely to have the effect of pushing even more moderate Republicans into the independent or even Democratic ranks.
As long as Republicans in the legislature continue to operate to the right even of their party's voters, it's going to be hard for them to convince the voters they should be controlling Raleigh.