PPIC Prop 8 Poll: It’s Only Informative If You Provide Information

Timothy Kincaid

December 4th, 2008

The Public Policy Institute of California has released a new survey (pdf) which purports to tell us about how various demographics in the state voted in November. Among their observations:

Differences in support for Proposition 8 are evident across party lines, with three in four Republicans (77%) voting yes and two in three Democrats (65%) voting no, while independents were more divided (52% yes, 48% no). The measure was supported by a majority of those without a college education (62%), while a majority of those with a college degree voted no (57%). Evangelical or born-again Christians (85%) are far more likely than others (42%) to have voted yes. Whites (50%) are less likely than Latinos (61%) to have voted yes; 57 percent of Latinos, Asians and blacks combined voted yes (sample sizes are too small to report Asians and blacks separately). Voters who supported Obama (30%) were far less likely than those who supported McCain (85%) to vote yes. Support for Proposition 8 increases with age (43% for ages 18–34; 50% for ages 35–54, yes; 56% for ages 55 and older) and declines with income.

But demographic information is only useful if the sample is representative. And in the case of a vote that has already occured, we can check to see how closely the sample aligns with the actual vote.

Before the election, I gave credence to the polling of PPIC. I monitored and tracked the movement of their results. And they were just flat wrong.

So I immediately looked in this new PPIC survey to see if the respondants indicated a vote that correlated with the Secretary of State’s tally. I’m a reasonable guy and I know that both recollection and voter reluctance can cause a variation from the actual vote so I was ready to allow for a measure of difference.

But the information provided by PPIC was:

23. Proposition 8 was called the “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry Initiative Constitutional Amendment.”

Did you vote yes or no on this measure?

[actual vote]

52% voted yes
48 voted no

PPIC replaced the response of their sample with the actual vote. But that is nonsense statistics.

They go on to tell us the opinion of those who reported to them that they voted “yes”, but they don’t tell us how many that was. And without some way to measure how closely their survey is to the actual vote, we have no idea whether the sample is skewed.

And the answer for Proposition 8 was not alone. They provided the [actual vote] response for all “how did you vote” questions, so I can’t even compare to see if respondants are “changing their vote” based on their emotional response to the subsequent social activism.

Frankly, without providing real answers, this PPIC survey has little value.

Chino Blanco

December 5th, 2008

How odd.

Ben in Oakland

December 5th, 2008

Maybe this isn’t the place to write this, but all of the polls, analyses, ad infinitum ignore one crucial thing. The crucial middle of the road voters were not reached. and they were not reached because the campaign was incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial, as my Dear Old Da use to say. The campaign, as is the current lawsuit, was conducted from the closet.

but I’ve said this before.

David C.

December 5th, 2008

Timothy,

This is a little junky, isn’t it.

Did you push back on this at all with the PPIC to see if you could get some clarification as to why this was done this way?

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