In an August poll, more than half of Louisiana Duck Dynasty fans said they support civil unions or marriage for gay couples. As politicians rush to show their support for Phil Robertson, this might be worth keeping in mind.
Last week, Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a weird statement comparing Robertson to Miley Cyrus. Over the weekend, Louisiana Lieutenant Governor (and likely 2015 gubernatorial candidate) Jay Dardenne released a statement pledging to leverage the state's resources to find a new home for the show from which Robertson was suspended. A sheriff in Douglas County went further, saying that he'd actively block A&E (the network that hosts Duck Dynasty) from filming in county facilities. This is a much more questionable move, that probably actually conflicts with the First Amendment, but that's between the sheriff and A&E's lawyers.
We were wondering if this outreach actually made sense, from a political standpoint. It's certainly the case that there has been vocal support for Robertson. The video at right, from the Associated Press, includes statements in support of and in opposition to Robertson from people in his hometown. The Daily Mail, meanwhile, attended a sermon he gave this weekend, documenting the response from the community — and, some additionally questionable comments. "Jesus will take sins away," Robertson reportedly said. "If you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference?"
He also said this, about marriage: "Adam was made and Eve was made for this reason. They left their fathers and mothers and united to become one flesh, that’s what marriage is all about." Curious about the extent to which that reflected the beliefs of Louisianans, we found this Public Policy Polling poll. Taken last August, it suggests that approval of Duck Dynasty has weird overlap with opinions on gay marriage. For example, take the data below. As the age of poll respondents increased, approval of gay marriage and the show dropped. But as political philosophy grew more conservative, approval of the show (red line) increased as approval of gay marriage (blue line) plummeted
We reached out to PPP to see if they could provide what's known as a "cross-tab," a direct comparison of people's views on Duck Dynasty and on gay marriage. They were kind enough to oblige. The graph below shows views on marriage, broken down by whether or not the person approves of the TV show. Dark blue is people who support gay marriage. Light blue, civil unions. Red, people who oppose any recognition for gays.
What does this say? Almost a quarter of Duck Dynasty fans in Louisiana support full marriage rights for gays. Another 28 percent support civil unions — meaning that 52 percent of the show's fans back some form of state recognition for gay relationships. That's not as much as the two-thirds of people who don't like the show but back legal status, but it's not insignificant.
Assumptions that Louisiana fans of Duck Dynasty necessarily agree with Robertson on marriage are incorrect or incomplete.