Prop. 8 Post-Mortem: Was There A Gay Bradley Effect?

Gregory Herek

November 12th, 2008

Was the passage of Prop. 8 always a foregone conclusion, despite poll results throughout the summer and early fall showing most likely voters opposed it?

Or were the major polls correct, and the sentiment of California voters actually shifted in the weeks leading up to Election Day, from opposition to support?

Throughout the election campaign, supporters and opponents of marriage equality maintained that survey results consistently understate support for antigay ballot measures because many respondents wish not to appear bigoted to a pollster.

The existence of a racial Bradley effect -­ i.e., a pattern in which the polls’ accuracy is affected by significant numbers of racist Whites lying to pollsters and saying they would vote for a Black candidate ­ has been widely disputed, and wasn’t evident in polling this year.

But was there a gay Bradley effect in California?

In my latest post at Beyond Homophobia, I review data from the Prop. 8 pre-election and exit polls and conclude that there is no evidence that survey respondents said they would vote No when they actually supported the measure.

Rather, the polls suggest that the No vote was shrinking in the weeks leading up to the election, and this trend probably continued right up to Election Day. Add to this the unexpectedly high turnout among key voter groups — which increased their impact on the outcome beyond what pollsters had projected — and the fact that many undecided voters ultimately supported the measure, and the final results are not difficult to reconcile with pre-election polls.

Thus, we can use the poll data as a tool for better understanding how the various strategies pursued by each side between May and November ultimately affected the outcome of the election.

You can read the entire analysis at Beyond Homophobia.

David C.

November 12th, 2008

In my view, Prop 8 passed because the Yes campaign did their homework a little better and outsmarted the No’s. The Yes side was relentless in pushing their shrill, albeit distorted, message that gay marriage would be taught in schools, a message they developed and refined through the use of focus groups.

The No campaign stuck with the low-key approach, repeating the same message, adjusted only in the last 3 or so weeks in an effort to debunk on the education ties. This tepid response to the constant and increasingly pointed use of children as a tool by the Yes side could have easily made the critical 2 or 3 percentage point difference in the outcome.

I don’t know if many people noticed, but you could not go to a gay-friendly website that had banner ads, and not see a Yes on 8 banner ad, even on pages that were explaining why No was the correct way to vote. They were everywhere. The No’s were practically invisible around the edges and the Yeses were subtly placed everywhere.


November 12th, 2008

Aside from the DOS attacks on the No on Prop. 8 website, could the yes on 8 have used some black hat SEO techniques to cause their ads to show up specifically where they did not belong?

If so, then “WOW”! The yes on 8 people have proven themselves to be the worst of the worst when it comes to politics. The ends justified the means.

Lies. Extortion. Blackmail.

These are their Christian values?

Samantha Davis

November 13th, 2008

I think No on 8 lost the minute the campaign started responding to the Yes on 8 lies in ads. Basically the ads were worse than ineffective: they made us look like liars, took us off message, and functionally doubled the exposure to the Yes on 8 message.

Ben in Oakland

November 13th, 2008

This was published in today’s Oakland tribune. It pretty much sums it up for me.

Dear Editor:

However one parses the numbers and voter trends that led to the passage of Prop. 8, the reality lies, ironically enough, in one simple truth: hypocrisy from both sides.

From Yes on 8, the guardians of family and faith had no moral qualms about using any number of lies and distortions to support their fear-mongering attacks on gay people and marriage equality. After all, if a law professor from a prestigious school tells you that freedom of speech and religion are threatened by gay marriage, despite the guarantees of our Constitution, it must be true. Likewise, the protectors of The Children had no issue with publicly exploiting the young children of parents adamantly opposed to Prop. 8, while effectively declaring that the well-being of the known 70,000 children of gay parents in California was of no consequence.

From No on 8, while loudly proclaiming that Gay Is Good, they official strategy came from the dark recesses of the closet, where hypocrisy is queen, and Gay Is Not So Good. Thus, in a campaign about gay marriage, we gay people, our lives, our families, and yes, our kids and our faiths, were completely invisible– by design, lest we scare some undecided voter. We could not discuss anti-gay prejudice, either, because by calling attention to a reality in our lives, we might offend the very people who call us a threat to family, faith, and country.

Here’s the result: more people thought that the standard of living of California chickens was more important than the families of their fellow Americans.

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