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New Poll on Prop 8 is Troubling

Timothy Kincaid

October 6th, 2008

A new SurveyUSA poll has a troubling finding:

According to the poll, likely California voters overall now favor passage of Proposition 8 by a five-point margin, 47 percent to 42 percent. Ironically, a CBS 5 poll eleven days prior found a five-point margin in favor of the measure’s opponents.

The only demographic group to significantly change their views during this period were younger voters — considered the hardest to poll and the most unpredictable voters — who now support the measure after previously opposing it.

I’m not sure what to make of this poll. I don’t put much trust in SurveyUSA. And the idea that younger voters would support a marriage ban seems to run contrary to every report, poll, survey or casual observation for the past several years.

But I do know that No on 8 is concerned and needs every dollar it can get along with every single spare minute that you may be able to contribute.

Comments

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AJD
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

I take any poll with a grain of salt, even if the sample is representative. Still, I would stick with Pew on this one…

Priya Lynn
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy said “A new SurveyUSA poll has a troubling finding” but the link goes to a CBS 5 article referring to their poll. Did you mean to say you don’t put much trust in this CBS 5 poll? Does SurveyUSA have anything to do with this?

Joe
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

And still Hollywood (including out gay Hollywood) and their wallets sit overwhelmingly quietly and uninvolved.

If this thing passes some of these assholes in Hollywood, whose biggest gift to the gay community or to our rights was wearing a red ribbon in the late eighties, should be shamed out of town.

Pomo
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

Joe, thats quite a sense of entitlement thinking that anyone owes us anything. Or that anyone has to support us.

I hope this poll isn’t true. And even moreso because I’ve tried numerous times to volunteer. Everytime I do people don’t get back to me or don’t follow through. And the time I tried to phonebank no one showed up.

All the No on Prop 8 people want is our money. And i’m not giving them another dime.

Ben in Oakland
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

Pomo– basically, this is what I have been saying all along. I even wrote an article for the BAR. I’ve tried to volunteer my services for speaking and writing, and i was told there was no demand for either.

I don’t believe it. If there is no demand, they should be out there creating it.

The political operatives are running this campaign. My personal opinion: they’re running it the wrong way. It’s all polls, and focus groups, and phone banks– and money. I think that a great deal of good could be accomplished if gay people were out there meeting others, if we were showing gay couples and families on TV, instead of just straight people.

I have raised approximately $1400 for no on 8, but I am not giving them any.

KipEsquire
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

SurveyUSA caters almost exclusively to television stations and uses prerecorded messages to which people respond via the touchtone keypad on their phones. The stations use the results to tailor their reporting to maximize ratings.

And 650 responses simply cannot be a representative sample of the totality of California voters, one way or the other.

Bottom line: Move along, nothing to see here…

Priya Lynn
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

Okay, I reread the article and now I get it. SurveyUSA did the poll for CBS 5.

Rather a shocking difference from the last PPI poll showing 38% supporting and 55% opposed. Such a swing seems hard to believe.

Jeff
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

Even Survey USA says the poll is likely not trustworthy on their site:

“But: polling on ballot measures in general is an inexact science, and polling on homosexuality in general is a tricky business. So, not too much should be made of the 5 points that separates ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ today. Support for 8 may be higher or lower than any opinion pollster is able to measure.”

http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=b46ce159-115e-4f44-8be2-ce9b8eca657e

Emily K
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

This poll looks like a statistical outlier.

Emily K
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

I also want to note that SurveyUSA has been consistently giving John McCain favorable numbers throughout the election campaigns, even where everyone else was favoring Obama. I take this one with a grain of kosher salt. (that’s really big grains of salt btw.)

cd
October 6th, 2008 | LINK

In other news, the Parker suit vs Lexington Public Schools was denied certiorari by the US Supreme Court without comment.

And there was gnashing of teeth and rending of hair among bigoted authoritarian right wing parents heard across the land.

Jeff
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

I just wanted to add that after viewing th Survery USA page again I suspect this an outliner. This is a poll of land lines (Im guessing because they dont state otherwise and most of their polls do leave out cell phones). I large portion of 18-35 year olds only have cell phones. Also the days the poll were taken – Saturday and Sunday – not great days to catch that age group at home.

Timothy Kincaid
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Guys,

I’m surprised that you are having trouble volunteering. The phone bank people called me today to see if I’ll be in on Wednesday with other members of my church to make calls (I can’t, but will be there the following Wednesday).

They may not need speakers or writers but they certainly need fingers to dial and cheerful voices to read scripts.

Hrrm
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

I wouldn’t put too much credence in SurveyUSA. Here in the Twin Cities the highly respected and longtime StarTribune poll had Sen. Norm Coleman trailing Al Franken by 13 points this past Sunday at the same time SurveyUSA, as quoted on KSTP Channel 5, has Coleman leading Franken by one point. I suspect SurveyUSA is as ‘fair and balanced’ as Fock Snooze.

Kevin
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

The No on Prop 8 campaign does need volunteers to call people. I volunteered last Sunday at the HQ in San Francisco and there was a total of maybe 15 people phonebanking….However, realize that hundreds of thousands of people were spilling out from the Castro Street Fair that was literally next to the HQ. If hundreds of thousands of Mormons, Catholics, and Evangelicals had just had a street fair, one would think they could get more than 15 folks to turn out to phonebank for their measure. I’m sorry but I’ve been politically active in the gay community for the last 14 years. I’ve seen it time and time again: gay men (not lesbians) are apolitical and unwilling to stand up for themselves – with, obviously, a few exceptions. You know that imagery of the pink triangle turned upside-down and a few people on the bottom holding it up by the tip and the many people on the top wide-end simply enjoying what other people have fought for? It continues to be true. Also, I have no doubt there are many gay men who will never care or see how a same-sex marriage ban will affect them, since they live in a culture of uncommitted relationships, anonymous sex, and the closet: yeah, someone had to go there, and I said it.

Ben in Oakland
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Kevin– I will agree with you to some extent. Most of my friends are not active. I’ve asked them to give money, but i haven’t followed up with them.

At the same itme, i have a lot of problems iwth the campaign. As i wrote in another posting, the poltiical operatives are running this show. they are interested in phone banking and raising money, and that seems to be pretty much it. I’ve called and emailed people repeatedly, saying that i have skills in writing, speaking (active agianst the Briggs initiative 30 years ago, wrotre the speakers handbook uased statewide), and am a professional photographer.

I did ONE photo job for them two weeks ago. There seems to be no interest in having people speak to other people. there is definitely no interest in showing real gay people in the advertising. I’ve spoken to people repeatedly about this, but they are not interested. It’s all ofcus groups, phone banks, moving the middle, and money.

I’m trying to do what I can, but i have given up trying to get anywhere with the official campaign.

I will say this, and i hope that I am dead wrong. I think the biggest mistake in the world is to have gay people and our families remain hidden and in the closet. The second biggest mistake is to avoid talking about prejudice. If we lose this, it is because the political people have kept us in the closet, fearing to over-excite some hypothetical undecided person.

Ben in Oakland
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

I hope it is ok to post this again. It appeared in the BAR a month ago, and i posted it here for other people to think about. I tihnk it is still relevant.

EDITORIAL

To begin with, I am no one in particular– just a happy gay man who hopes my marriage will survive the election. I am politically aware, knowledgeable on gay issues, as out as I can be, and possess a decent understanding of humanity. I have no political axe to grind.

After the No on 8 kickoff, I spoke briefly to a man who is very high up in gay politics. I asked if they were going to repeat the campaign against Prop. 22: talking about being nice, tolerance, freedom, etc. Or, would they deal with the substantive issues of anti-gay prejudice, and the social, financial, and legal impact on gay people, especially those with children, of not having marriage available? He responded that the focus groups had shown that undecided voters respond best to the former approach, and that would be the emphasis in order to move those voters.

“Do you mean to say that you are going to fight an anti-gay marriage initiative without showing any gay people or even talking about marriage?” While conceding that personal stories and real people are relevant, he repeated what the focus groups show, and that political processes like phone banks will trump personal stories. Liberal tolerance will be the message.

I pointed out some things to him. A smart friend of mine saw the anti-8 ad where a straight bride is continually prevented from getting to her wedding. Until she got to the very end and saw the No on 8 message, she had no idea what it was about. She reasonably wondered why a heterosexual wedding was featured when the discussion is about gay people. I told him of my experience against the Briggs Initiative thirty years ago, when we were fighting the invisibility of the closet as well as that hateful legislation. The public could see real gay people, not the phantasms of the rabid Right. And that reality moved them.

I also pointed out that this strategy has been tried repeatedly, and possibly except for Arizona in 2006, it has yet to work. It failed miserably against Prop. 22. Now, I am not immersed in political culture. And I know that there is far more to politics than merely presenting issues and people voting. The politico may well be right, and I, quite wrong. Though his approach has merit, it is very troubling to me. It smells uncomfortably of the closet, which I have long maintained is the real enemy, not the Radical Right. It tells us to be invisible, not to talk about our lives and the REAL issues we face, lest we offend some undecided voter who needs to be manipulated into doing the right thing.

It avoids the larger issue of anti-gay prejudice, an apparently invisible 800 pound lavender gorilla. Research and experience show that people who know gay people tend not to vote against them. If we do not show gay people, we remain a faceless, menacing other, instead of friend, neighbor, or family. It is easy to vote against someone who is invisible. This was the lesson of Briggs and Prop.22.

I can see producing commercials featuring pretty straight girls. But why are we not also showing the couple who have been together for forty years, and who, because they cannot marry, are not eligible for each other’s pensions, guaranteeing one of them an old age of poverty? Why not show the two women who are raising their children, children who deserve the same protections that marriage would bring their family as it does their hetero counterparts? Why are we not showing the minister marrying two men in their church, surrounded by their happy, cheering families? Why are we not showing indignant Rabbis and Episcopal, UCC, and other ministers who don’t want a few denominations telling them what to do? Why are we not showing the man who nursed his partner through a heart attack? Why are we showing anything but us?

I cannot insist that I am right, but my life’s experience tells me I am. And telling the truth, especially in the face of so much hate and lies, is never a mistake. What if we lost this election because undecided voters say, “I voted yes because I don’t know any gay people, or anything about them. And I didn’t get that commercial.”

Which brings me to my final point. If you want to do the minimum against Prop. 8, unless your physical safety is an issue, COME OUT NOW– especially to your family and friends. Not eventually, not next month, but NOW. Ask those people to vote NO on 8 for your sake, or, if they cannot vote no, at least, not to vote on it.

Be the change that you would see in the world. This will be your gift to the future.

Timothy Kincaid
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Ben,

Perhaps at this time it would be best to help in the way that is requested rather than in the way that each of us may wish.

I think that I have skills that far exceed reading a script to a potential voter. I have campaign experience, writing skills, debate abilities, and a whole host of opinions. I’ve lobbied. I’ve written literature. My skills may well be wasted by those who just don’t appreciate them.

But I also recognize that for a campaign to be successful, it needs to keep on message. And I know that focus groups do provide information about what message sells. I also know that I can’t come in at this point and revise the direction of the campaign, regardless of how foolish I may think it to be.

So I’ll do what’s asked. I put up a sign for my neighbors to see. And next Wednesday I’ll be dialing phones.

And who knows, maybe they’ll see my abilities, recognize my talent, and jump to ask me to direct the next commercial and to argue the issue before the public. But it certainly won’t happen if I’m not there dialing phones.

Tara TASW
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Excellent letter, Ben.

I have no idea if the poll is accurate or not. I just know that we need to make those phone calls, write letters to the editor, hand out fliers at BART, and talk to any friends and family who might be on the fence. If we lose this one, the damage will last for a very long time.

Ben in Oakland
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy– I do agree with you. as I said, I could be quite wrong about this. I am doing what I can do. I tried the phone-banking, but it just felt so wrong and fake to me. I know that when I worked against the briggs initiative, the speaking and writing i did was effective. It reached people.

Tara TASW
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Ben, since you mentioned writing as one of your skills, maybe submit an op-ed for the Oakland Tribune? It couldn’t hurt.

Ben in Oakland
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

Tara: I just took your suggestion and called and wrote to the tribune on this. I will do the same for the Mercury news.

Tara TASW
October 7th, 2008 | LINK

You rock!

Bill
October 8th, 2008 | LINK

DON’T SIT AROUND AND DO NOTHING!

Do you support eliminating same-sex couples right to marry in California?

YES – 47%
NO – 42%

http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=b46ce159-115e-4f44-8be2-ce9b8eca657e

YES campaign raised – $27 million
NO campaign raised – $16 million

This is a fight we can’t lose, the stakes are too high. PLEASE do something even if you don’t live in California. Write online in message boards, dailykos, huff po, forums anything to get the word out to VOTE NO on PROP 8. Make videos and post them on youtube. Be resourceful.

NO on Prop 8 —> https://secure.ga4.org/01/equalityforall

Tanara
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

The poll is correct. I’ve been walking, going door to door for 7 weeks now, polling citizens about Proposition 8. I’ve talked to people in about 500+ households, and these are the statistics: 55% in favor of Prop 8, 20% against Prop 8, and the rest are undecided. I suspect that a lot of the undecided voters will vote in favor of Prop 8.

Tanara
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

I’m also voting for Prop 8. I suggest that if you care about 4 judges overruling the will of the people, you also vote YES for Prop 8. You can’t “steal” away the will of the people and get away with it.

Kevin
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

Tanara,

I know it’s just rhetoric – this whole “activist judges” bull you guys keep repeating like a broken record. Still, I can’t help but wonder what you think the Supreme Court does all day?

Aren’t they there to objectively determine whether laws are constitutional or not? And, I’d like for you to tell me exactly what the political influence of these judges are. Are you even aware that the majority of them are registered Republicans (not exactly the party of gay rights)?

Here: you don’t like the outcome of a ruling because it re-affirms the law set out by the Constitution. That’s your beef. That’s why you guys want to change the constitution – not because it’s right the way it’s written, but because it contradicts your prejudice against same-sex couples.

Tanara – you are a persecutor of good people, a bad neighbor, and illiterate in the principles of our democracy.

Timothy Kincaid
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

Tanara,

Suppose for a moment, Tanara, that I wished to rob your house. I really really wanted to. I even believed that the world would be a better place if I took the things that you worked so hard for. I wanted them and felt justified taking them – and my friends all agreed.

Then suppose four cops stopped me.

How very unfair. How dare they impose their will on me. How dare they overrule my friends.

You see, Tanara, the judges are like cops. You wanted to steal my right to equal treatment under the law. And your friends all agreed that you should do so. The judges said “no” and now you are indignant.

But Tanara, you are in the position of the theif. Of course you don’t want to be stopped from stealing the equality I worked so hard for.

But, because the judges were my protectors, I’m certainly not going to share your indignation that they stopped you. And if you really thought about it, you’d come to agree.

AJD
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

Kevin, very well-put.

Tanara, have you ever heard the phrase “tyranny of the majority?” The whole point of the courts is to ensure that the “will of the people” doesn’t trample on the minority. The California Supreme Court judges found that the law banning same-sex marriage violated the state’s constitution, so they struck it down.

I’m curious, did you know that in the early 1950s, most of the white majority in the South and some Midwest states approved of the Jim Crow laws? That’s why it took the U.S. Supreme Court to strike them down in Brown v. Board of Education, and the National Guard had to be called in to enforce the court’s ruling. In your view, was the Supreme Court “overruling the will of the people?” Were these “activitist judges” who were “legislating from the bench?”

rusty
October 10th, 2008 | LINK

In honor of National Coming Out Day 10-11. . .I turn to ‘Because of you’ lyrics to express what happens to good folk who grow up in oppressive households and faith communities that belittle glbt folk.

Sometimes families persecute, or threaten ex-communication, sometime even kick out loved ones. Churches ban or ex-communicate members.

I didn’t come out ‘officially’ to my parents until I was 40 and my parents were the ones who felt bad because they felt that I couldn’t trust them with my ‘hidden secret’ (you do the math, single 40 and no girlfriends)

I encourage others to help others ‘come out’

To those who are scared to come out, think about these words from the song

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side
So I don’t get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust
Not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid

I lose my way
And it’s not too long before you point it out
I cannot cry
Because I know that’s weakness in your eyes
I’m forced to fake, a smile, a laugh
Every day of my life
My heart can’t possibly break
When it wasn’t even whole to start with

If it is your family, your faith community, your neighbors, your co-workers, maybe giving those important in your life a chance of knowing the real you, will help release your potential to become the real you.

But also remember, coming out is not a one step process, but a life-long process at this point. A friend who was a teacher, after 16 years, decided to come out to his students, only to realize that he would have to come out over and over and over, with each new school year, new set of students, new set of families, new teachers, new neighbors, etc. etc. etc. BUT he lives a more fuller life, and he is truly happy.

Tanara
October 11th, 2008 | LINK

[Editor - normally we do not edit comments for content. But Tamara is making a number of claims that are blatantly false, something not allowed at this site so I am electing editorial privelege and interject fact. - Timothy]

I have done my research. First of all, there were 7 judges on that court, and three of them voted that Proposition 22 did not violate any constitutional rights. The four judges who did rule against Prop 22 did so based on a 1948 decision (from a racial decision) that ruled that it was a civil right to be married. However, if you go back and read that 1948 decision, it is specifically speaking of the civil right for heterosexual marriage–marriage between a man and a woman. It never rules that ANY kind of marriage is a civil right. In reality, the constitutions of states and the federal government regularly “limit” the civil rights of marriage: that is why polygamy is not legal…or polyandry…marriage between siblings, close relatives, or between child and parent. Even marriage between a minor and an adult needs to have the permission of parents.

The other thing that the 4 “activist” judges did was name homosexuals as a protected class, which puts their interests even above the civil rights formerly granted to others, such as the right to religious beliefs and the right to free speech. [The court found that gay persons are a Suspect Class and that discrimination against them is subject to Strict Scrutiny, similar to that against racial minorities or religion. This does not in any manner put their civil rights "above the civil rights based on religion or free speech]. This was a very dangerous and “activist” move on their part. It was outside of their role and especially without any concern for the will of the people of California. The federal constitution specifically gives the right to define marriage to the states…to the people. [Marriage is not mentioned in the US Constitution at any point.] Giving homosexuals a protected class clause in the constitution takes away the will of the people and also forces people to accept same-sex marriage…not only the marriages, but the educating of them to our children in public schools. No longer are parents deemed the most appropriate teachers of sexual education to their children–in fact, in Massachusetts, parents have been denied the right to remove their children from school on homosexual training days. [This is false]

Marriage has been between a man and a woman throughout all of known history. In the countries where same-sex marriage has been legalized, the number of marriages has gone down and the number of children born out of wedlock has increased. [The truth is the exact opposite of Tamara’s claim] Same-sex marriage is a social experiment gone bad. In fact, it is so bad in some areas, that their governments are now trying to figure out how to reverse it. [No governments are trying to reverse same-sex marriage. This is baseless and possibly springs whole from Tamara's imagination] Spain, for example, is now paying its citizens to have children. [I can find no evidence of this claim and Tamara provides none. I think it is likely a baseless falsehood. But were it true, there is no connection whatsoever between same-sex marriage and birth rate.]

Think of it this way. If I have a $5 bill, it is worth $5. But if the market suddenly gets flooded with millions of counterfeit $5 bills, suddenly my $5 bill (which is still genuine) is not worth anything anymore. Its value has been completely undermined by all of the fraudulent ones.

Lastly, I am not unsympathetic to the pains of discovering one might feel same-sex attraction. I do not hate such people at all. I do believe that two people who love each other should be able to visit in hospitals, etc., and that is covered by Domestic Partnerships in California. But a homosexual partnership is just not the same as marriage, and it should not be considered such.

AJD
October 11th, 2008 | LINK

“Marriage has been between a man and a woman throughout all of known history.”

What about polygamy, which is still legal in some countries? A number of ancient cultures allowed same-sex marriages as well, such as the Chinese.

In the countries where same-sex marriage has been legalized, the number of marriages has gone down and the number of children born out of wedlock has increased.

Ah yes, this old saw. I’ve seen that claim as well, but the problem is that nobody has been able to demonstrate a direct, causal relationship between legalized same-sex marriage and declines in marriages overall and increases in out-of-wedlock births. Out-of-wedlock births have indeed increased in the Netherlands, but that’s been happening for more than 30 years, long before anyone ever tried to legalize same-sex marriage.

At the same time, Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country, while Arkansas (which banned gay marriage in 2004) has one of the highest.

Same-sex marriage is a social experiment gone bad. In fact, it is so bad in some areas, that their governments are now trying to figure out how to reverse it. Spain, for example, is now paying its citizens to have children.

Again, declines in birthrates are occurring throughout Europe, and that’s been happening since long before same-sex marriage was legalized.

Do you see what you’re doing here? It’s called “scapegoating.”

Tamara
October 11th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,
Your analogy doesn’t work.

Nobody is stealing a right. Any supposed “rights” to marriage between a same-sex parnetship were given 1)against the will of the people…which is very much like stealing my property and giving it someone else, and 2)by judges that didn’t have the right to do so under the definition of their job description.

The only thief here is the person who advocates kidnapping marriage to molest and destroy it.

Timothy Kincaid
October 11th, 2008 | LINK

Tamara,

Constitutional rights reside in the Constitution. They are not “granted”, whether with or against the will of the people. That’s why we have a Constitution and a Judiciary. If we just wanted to go by majority whim, Tamara, we could eliminate the rights of all minority groups, be they ethnic, religious, or orientation.

It is the job of the Supreme Court to determine which laws are consistent with the Constitution and to disallow those that are not. What was it that you thought they did?

Clearly you are very ignorant about the roll of the Judiciary.

Priya Lynn
October 11th, 2008 | LINK

Tamara said ” Any supposed “rights” to marriage between a same-sex parnetship were given 1)against the will of the people…which is very much like stealing my property and giving it someone else”

That’s utter nonsense Tamara and it only goes to demonstrate the bizarre lengths you’ll go to to twist reality to justify your bigotry. Allowing same sex couples to marry doesn’t deprive you of anything whatsoever. On the other hand it is you who’d deprive those couples of a life-changing event to satisfy your own trivial whims. It is you who is stealing from same sex couples Tamara, not vice versa.

Priya Lynn
October 11th, 2008 | LINK

Tamara said “Think of it this way. If I have a $5 bill, it is worth $5. But if the market suddenly gets flooded with millions of counterfeit $5 bills, suddenly my $5 bill (which is still genuine) is not worth anything anymore. Its value has been completely undermined by all of the fraudulent ones”.

That’s an utterly false analogy for three reasons.

1) Same sex marriages represent a tiny percentage of all marriages, one cannot “flood the market” with same sex marriages.

2) Same sex marriages are not “counterfeit”. These loving relationships are just as valid and valuable as any heterosexual marriage. Same sex couples care for, support each other, and enhance each others happiness just as much as opposite sex couples do. By benefiting the individuals involved same sex marriages make these couples more productive and improve society as a whole – same sex marriages are anything but “counterfeit”.

3) Same sex marriages do not devalue heterosexual marriages in any way. After opening marriage to same sex couples heterosexual marriages retain all the same rights, responsibilities, and benefits that they had before – they are not changed in anyway. You can still file your income tax together, receive pension benefits if your partner dies, make medical and funeral decisions for them, refuse to testify in court against your partner, get family discounts at businesses, etc. Regardless of how many same sex couples marry your marriage is unchanged in the slightest – your analogy is a false demonization of harmless gay couples.

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