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Prop 8 Report: The “Danger To Children” Theme Proved Decisive

Jim Burroway

August 2nd, 2010

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Mentoring Project has just released a massive report (PDF: 13MB/511 pages, or via HTML here) which analyzes more than 10,000 pages of unreleased data from the California Prop 8 campaign. The report’s author and project founder, Dave Fleischer, concludes that many common conceptions of why the No on 8 campaign lost the November 2008 ballot measure are factually wrong. In particular, Fleischer finds that the most critical element in the Yes on 8’s victory, aside from its massive fundraising, was the No on 8 campaign’s delay in countering the false “danger to children” message ran by supporters of Prop 8.

Here are what Fleischer called the “top 10 facts and findings of the report:

1. Our base shrank: Fleischer contends that that Yes on 8 was about to peel away voters who had supported same-sex marriage just six weeks before election day. He estimates that from September 22, at least 5% of voters moved towards the anti-gay side. The largest shifts occurred among parents, white Democrats, Latinas, and voters in the greater Bay area.

2. The Yes on 8 side’s “danger to children” message was very effective, and we keep ignoring that at our peril. This matches precisely my one enduring criticism of the No on 1 campaign in Maine: They didn’t learn the lesson of California. During that 2009 campaign in Maine, I looked at the messaging from both sides and found the “no” side’s response to be weak to nonexistent, particularly where it fails to address the other side’s dishonest “danger to children message.” I got a lot of flack for that from Matt Forman, but this report vindicates my concerns. Which leads directly to the next finding:

3. Parents ran away: Fleischer notes that “Almost three-quarters of the net movement toward the ban was among parents with kids under 18 living at home” — almost 500,00 of them. He went on:

The lesson of the Yes on 8 campaign: when parents hear that their kids are in danger, even if it’s a lie some of them believe it — particularly when the lie largely goes unanswered.

This runs counter to the conventional wisdom that African-American voters cost us the election. If we had been able to hold onto more of those parts of other demographics where we lost ground during the campaign — including demographics which should have been in our pocket (white Democrats and Bay Area voters), it would have made a huge difference in the outcome.

4. Smart but too late: The most costly mistake, according to Fleischer, was the delay on the No on 8 side in answering the “danger to children.” When they finally got around to issuing an ad to confront the Yes on 8 message, the response ad was one of “two most effective moves made by No on 8″ (the other being the massive fundraising surge).

5. Record breaking fundraising. No on 8 was particularly effective with online fundraising.

6. Record-breaking Field. No on 8 mobilized some 51,000 volunteers. Unfortunately the impact of the massive grassroots effort was squandered because the campaign “focused on building a list of identified supporters who were most already very likely to vote.” It seems to me a greater effort should have been expended in identifying supporters who might not vote, and identifying the movable middle that could be persuaded through one-on-one contact.

7. One-Sided Message Discipline. The Yes on 8’s messaging was consisted, clear, direct, and repetitive. The No on 8’s messaging wandered, partly because – – –

8. No on 8 Changed Horses in Midstream: A month before election day, No o n8 installed new leaders, and the new ads were very different from those approved by prior leaders. However, I think it should be noted that the response ad which finally ran in response to the “danger to children” theme in late October was brought out by the new regime. So it seems to me the problem of inconsistent messaging wasn’t necessarily the fault of the new regime, but was perhaps more a reflection of the older regime’s reluctance to take the harder-hitting message head-on.

9. Avoiding the “G” word. Yup. Gay. Look, Prop 8 was all about gay marriage. Everybody new it. Those who supported Prop 8 knew it, those who opposed it knew it, and those who were in the middle knew it. It’s not like it was some big secret that Not on 8 had to keep hidden. Everyone was already talking about it. Fleischer wrote:

Polling supported the same approach: clear arguments about LGBT people and use of the word “gay” tested less well than abstract arguments and vagueness. But the polling advice is very likely an artifact of the polling itself as well as a reflection of actual voter preferences, and is fundamentally irrelevant: voters were going to learn that Prop 8 concerned gay people whether or not No on 8 told them. Although the No on 8 executive committee resisted the pressure and insisted on the use of the word “gay” when it was operating as a decision-making body, tension between the two impulses compromised message discipline. Results included message tentativeness, gay-avoidance in the later No on 8 ads, and a “de-gayed” campaign in general. Ultimately, the only two No on 8 TV ads that had a measurable impact on voters were the only two that used the word “gay.”

10: Not so close. This is perhaps the most worrisome aspect of the outcome. Prop 8 passed by 600,000 votes. But Fleischer believes that another 400,000 thought that voting “no” was a vote against same-sex marriage, not a vote for it. “To reverse the result,” he writes, “we start out 1,000,000 votes behind. This runs counter to the belief that the election was so close that we can easily reverse the result.

Our opponents have a winning message. It’s a false message, but it wins elections every single time. Anita Bryant used the “danger to children” theme thirty-five years ago, and we are still losing battles to it today. That sad fact is, that it resonates, and we ignore it at our peril Fleschman writes:

The need to learn from history is particularly acute because the central message of the anti-LGBT side isn’t new. Our opposition keeps recycling the spurious idea that kids are in danger. For example, the anti-gay Yes on 1 campaign in Maine in 2009 used exactly the same message as the Yes on 8 campaign in 2008. Both echoed anti-gay campaigns going back at least to 1977. Yet the pro-LGBT side often fails to anticipate that the time-tested anti-gay message is coming or underestimates its effect. The No on 8 campaign was inadequately prepared when the same ugly arguments surfaced in the final thirty days before the election. The more of us on the pro-LGBT side who learn and recall history, the more likely we will be prepared the next time. Preparation will increase our chances of success.

Similarly, some of the mistakes in No on 8 recall mistakes made by pro-LGBT campaigns across the country. … Foremost among them is hoping that avoidance of the kids issue will minimize its impact. It doesn’t.

This is an incredible document, one that should be required reading for all future campaign managers wherever same-sex marriage (or any other LGBT issue) comes up on the ballot.

Comments

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John
August 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I don’t buy the idea that 400,000 people accidentally voted no on 8. I knew plenty of people who were confused about the language of Prop 8, and I’m sure that the people who accidentally voted for prop 8 were at balance with the ones who mistakenly voted “no.”

Ryan
August 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I’m sorry, but where does he get the 400,000 mistaken “No” votes? How can anyone possibly know that? And what about people who were •for• gay marriage, and voted “Yes” on 8?

Patrick
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Read the report. The data is there. The purpose of the report is to cut through all the uninformed, reactionary, misguided opinions with data driven analysis. It’s not meant to comfort; it’s meant to inform.

Ryan
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

I understand that, but if someone made a mistake voting without knowing it, no amount of data can confirm that. It frankly strains credibility to the breaking point to say 400 thousand voted “No” on accident, and none did the opposite.

Terence Weldon
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

This is why we need to pay as much attention to adoption issues as to marriage itself. Regardless of whether we want to do it ourselves, we must get the message across that our families do parenting as well as any others- and often better. There is abundant scientific evidence to support us – even in the animal kingdom. some same sex couples make better parents. (“Same sex parents, furred and feathered” – http://queering-the-church.com/blog/sexuality-gender/same-sex-parents-furred-and-feathered/)

We need to disseminate the knowledge from research -and also to get our queer families visible in local communities. It’s difficult to remain prejudiced against the couples you meet at the PTA or at church.

Tommy
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

“Almost three-quarters of the net movement toward the ban was among parents with kids under 18 living at home” — almost 500,00 of them.”

I disagree with your analysis of why that happened. In my opinion, these are parents who have a very real sense that one of their children might be gay. By voting anti-gay and contributing to a generalized homophobic environment, they unconsciously or consciously wish to punish glbt people and indirectly warn their own child not to “choose the lifestyle”. It is essentially a passive/aggressive action and similar to what motivates someone like Roy Ashburn too.

Stephen
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

A variant of this argument was used at Oscar Wilde’s trial, for god’s sake. This has nothing to do with parenting. It’s about us coming to steal away their children and turn them queer. That’s the fear. It isn’t based on fact and can’t be answered by fact. This is why we need the courts to protect us. And this should be a very good argument to the courts why we need their protection.

Lucrece
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Yes, the children scare is effective. What’s new?

The problem is countering the scare. The counter prop 8 offered was “nuh uh we ain’t teaching that nasty stuff to children in schools, no gay shit!”.

It confirms the prejudice of “catching the gay”. And behind that is the notion that, even if it was possible to catch the gay, it is bad because gay is bad.

You can put out videos with doctors talking about it, but it will do little to shut down spiteful voting in the name of enshrined heterosexism (heterosexuality is the example to follow).

David Caldwell
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

@Ryan, John: take a look at http://prop8report.lgbtmentoring.org/read-the-report/appendices-overview/appendix-k-wrong-way-voting

The report does not estimate that 400,000 people made the No mistake and no one made the Yes mistake: it estimates that 875,000 made the No mistake and 650,000 made the Yes mistake, for a net swing of 450,000 votes. It estimates this based on polling asking each voter two questions: how the voter planned to vote on 8, and how they intended their vote to affect same-sex marriage (the second question read, “Just to be clear, is your vote to eliminate same-sex marriage, or not to eliminate same-sex marriage?”)

The full explanation of how the calculations and estimations were done can be found on the page referenced above.

Jim Burroway
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Tommy,

The shift in parents towards supporting Prop 8 occurred about six weeks before the election. There was a substantial number of parents who were previously against Prop 8 which changed their minds. Click on the graph, and you’ll see a remarkable shift that occurred within a very narrow 2 week window. There is no way that can be explained by all of them suddenly, en masse, deciding that one of their children might be gay. But it does coincide with the Yes on 8’s advertising that brought the “danger to children” meme to television and radio in mid-October. Those commercials were hugely effective, and the No campaign dithered for two weeks before countering them. Two weeks in a campaign is eternity.

MaskedBandit
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Basically, the Courage Campaign (and, as I recall, criticism from this site) had it right?

Show the families with two moms and two dads, show them with their children. SHOW how marriage bans harm our children. Don’t jerk around with text-only ads with voice overs about fairness.

AJD
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

The scaremongering about children goes back much further than Anita Bryant. Did anyone ever see Sid Davis’ 1961 film “Boys Beware?” That film did a lot to disseminate the idea that gay men are mentally deranged pedophiles who prey upon innocent young boys. The film is available on YouTube.

The idea that gays — and gay men in particular — are a threat to children is basically to our community what the Blood Libel was to the Jews. One common component of oppression of minorities is the creation of a mythology that characterizes members of that minority as inherently antisocial and dangerous.

So just as rumors of Jews drinking Christian children’s blood fueled the pogroms and anti-Semitic politics of the past, myths of child sexual abuse by gays help fuel anti-gay political campaigns today.

Ben in Oakland
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Isadi this over and over and over again to anybody who would listed to me. We showed no gay people. we refused to talk aobut cihldren, rleigion and prejudice. It was closeted, lying campaign from beginning to end– on both sides.

Here’s a letter i wrote to the chronicle;

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.

Timothy Kincaid
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

I don’t recall if I mentioned this, but I thought it at the time.

NOM et al ran an ad showing the kids who went to their teacher’s wedding. But they didn’t tell the truth about it.

What I think should have happened is that about two days later (after it had gotten plenty of airtime) we should have countered with an ad featuring those kids’ parents. Play a snippet of Yeson8’s ad and then the parent steps in front saying, “Hey, those are my kids and I took them to that wedding. And how DARE these people tell me how I have to raise my children. And that’s what this initiative is all about. I want to raise my kids to value diversity and equality and they want to force us all to live by THEIR religion. Please vote with me to protect our rights to raise our families as we sit fit. Vote NO on 8.”

It was a golden opportunity. We ignored it.

Ben in Oakland
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

As we ignored ANY bit of sense. I’m still pissed about it. Here’s something i wrote that was published in the BAR right afterthe campaign kickoff.

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.

Ben in Oakland
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Two more failures of no on 8:

1)No campaign asking people not to vote at all if they could not vote no.

2) no campaign directed ato ut most valuable resource– gay people.

David Caldwell
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Ben in Oakland: I wouldn’t agree with every idea that you’re articulating here, but I would agree with some; maybe most. But that’s mostly irrelevant to me at the moment.

The key point I want to make is that this is one of the main points of the report: to allow the community to claim more ownership of what happens in the next campaign. We need more people thinking, more people researching, more people helping build the community’s body of knowledge. Only a well-informed community can hold the next campaign’s leadership accountable: and a well-informed community will hopefully *produce* some of the next campaign’s leadership.

We’re trying to supply not just our analysis of the data, but the data itself, so that this discussion can be as informed as possible. But you point out someting we see as a big problem: campaign honchos overuse some research methods at the exclusion of others. See our recommendation at https://prop8report.lgbtmentoring.org/read-the-report/recommendations/recommendations-12-14-honesty/12-don-t-over-rely-on-one-research-method for example.

Also see recommendation 10 in the executive summary, which gets at our desire to involve the broader community in the analysis surrounding the next campaign: “Include but go beyond the Usual Suspects: The small circle of people who are normally involved in crucial LGBT community matters and in California politics are very talented, but their talent is not enough. Reach out to additional people with smarts, expertise, and good judgment, who can apply their capabilities to the specific challenges we face. An example of No on 8 doing this well was when the second campaign manager and one of his deputies brought in a team of information technology experts from Google, Facebook, and Yahoo to fix the campaign’s online fundraising. The team of twenty IT volunteers saved the day, yet probably none of them numbered among the usual suspects to whom a campaign would normally turn. Part of a strong campaign is constantly searching for, trying out, and evaluating new talent. See Recommendation 10 for detailed discussion.”

Ben in Oakland
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

David: I tried repeatedly to get someone, anyone to listen. When i inquired about a speaker’s bureau, I was told there was no demand for it. when I pointed out that the campaign should be creating that demand, I was met with silence. When i offered to form a speakers’ bureau, pointing out my experience writing the speakers bureau handbook that was used state-wide aginst Brioggs, they stopped even pretending that they were interested. I finally gave up. I took it upon myself to write and sned a column aobut prop. 8 to every newspaper in the state.

I got more response from four or cfive newspapers who weren’t gay friendly than I got from the whole no-on-8 campaign. And for the record, I am not a nut case, and the politico mentioned was Mark Leno.

Ben in Oakland
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

David– I should also point out that i have been trying for some months this year to offer my services as writer, speaker, and professional photographer to EQCA on these important issues.

Other than a few calls from A.S. that eventually went nowhere, there has been no response.

and, for the record, i am not a nut case.

Christopher Eberz
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Does anyone remember when the bay area charter school’s field trip took place, and how much that event contributed to the shift in support from parents with children under the age of 18?

Lee
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Why doesn’t our side get brutally real too and produce graphic commercials showing the mutilated bodies of glbt people who have been viciously bashed, maimed, and slaughtered? Also show the crumpled and twisted bodies of glbt youth who have committed suicide. These are the real consequences of the ballot box games that homophobes play with our lives and our families.

Lee
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

So called ‘outing’ should also play a part in any campaign. Despite the common notion that anything gay must be kept incredibly ‘private’, people like Mike Rogers have produced dramatic results by sharing the truth about homophobic hypocrites. If we pulled out all the stops, it would shake up the political arena to its core and rip wide open their big lie. Several days before an election to have published photos of leading gay Republicans in male/male sex escapades would rock the foundations of homophobia inc.

Markus
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

I think the all too inconvenient truth is that too many people and too many organizations are too deeply invested (and I mean financially) in the fight and have A LOT of incentive to keep the fight going rather than winning the fight. Call me a conspiracy theorist but I don’t think that all of these “missteps” were accidental. That’s why so many of these same “missteps” were made again in Maine when we knew EXACTLY what was coming and we responded AGAIN, too little, too late as if we had no idea.

I know that most of the people who worked for and on these campaigns are sincere but I think the people at the top of HRC and Equality CA and some of the other so-called “marriage rights campaigns” DON’T have the interest of the community primary in their minds. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to see how they screw up time and time again in ways that seem so unbelievable that ANYONE could not have known better. Well that’s because ANYONE whose actual goal was to WIN these battles WOULD have known, and done, better.

You can’t tell me that Joe Solomonese REALLY wants to win full equality for the GLBT community and put himself out of a VERY lucrative job.

I’m not buyin it.

David Caldwell
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

@Ben in Oakland: so let’s proceed together, as a community. Let’s each adopt a spirit of genuine curiosity about data, about information. Everybody from our leaders to grassroots activists to ordinary people who care about this could benefit from doing this.

I’m glad you’re engaging in thinking about this. Let’s put all our ideas to the test, and try to gather evidence about which work. Sometimes the evidence surprises me. So I hope that people will listen better to you in the future: and I hope you’re willing to listen and be curious as well. If we all think together in good faith, and rigorously test the results of our thinking, that’s the way I think we can best create the knowledge needed to win.

I’d encourage you to visit http://prop8report.lgbtmentoring.org/get-involved and inquire about a briefing on the report. There’s a lot of room for community discussion at this kind of forum: I was at one last night. And people who want to think about this are the kind of people we want to meet.

L. Junius Brutus
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Markus:

Never attribute to evil what can be explained by incompetence.

joe
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

This is just so infuriating. We knew at the time that we had to counter those accusations, but Kors listened to the focus group that said not to do anything about it.

In 1978, with the Briggs initiative, Anita brought up “the children.” Harvey Milk on televised debates refuted that gay men are pedophiles with FBI statistics that gay men are only about 5% of pedophiles (more recent and better stats show that it is closer to 3%.) Our literature from Briggs countered the pedophile charge as well: with facts. The literature also used the word gay often. In fact, in 1979, one of main groups had brochures that said in bold words: LESBIANS TEACHERS AGAINST PROP 6.

The polls showed Anita’s camp ahead until close to the end. Surprisingly, we won with 10 points.

When will we learn: typical campaign strategies don’t work for us. Polls are wildly inaccurate, tepid commercials don’t work, not making allies (Harvery brought in labor and other groups reached out to faith organizations.)

I don’t support any group campaigning for gay marriage. Why throw my money away. When we get full equality it will because of all of those wonderful queens in Hollywood making movies like Milk and shows like True Blood.

Here’s a link to an article that discusses how we won in 1978 and how prop 8 was run:

http://www.sfbaytimes.com/?sec=article&article_id=10080

And, we didn’t learn in Maine. Why do we keep using “modern” methods when the campaign method Harvey Milk pioneered was successful. As much as I hate to say it, our professional groups exist only to pay their upper management high salaries.

Ben in Oakland
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

As a side note, joe, I also did my best to contact the Maine people and say exactly what I had said to the CA people. As soon as I saw their first commericals, i knew they were going to make almost the same mistakes.

Evidence #1: the two gay guys with the two kids and the father of one of them talking aobut marriage. Why weren’t THE ACTUAL PEOPLE INVOLVED talking about why marriage was important to them.

more of hte same closeted BS.

BTW, did we know each other back in the day?

Pender
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

This is a pretty devastating indictment of the No on 8 campaign, and the first one I’ve seen that doesn’t fall back on unsupported editorializing about the importance of showing gay people in the ads themselves. (Not sure if “hiding the gays” was or wasn’t a problem, but I’d like to see some data before claiming to know.)

David
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

@Joe. Although I detest Ronald Reagan, claiming that education was the decisive factor in defeating Prop 6 overlooks the significance of Ronald Reagan’s opposition to Prop 6. Even David Mixner, an organizer for the opposition to the Briggs initiative in Los Angeles, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that the man who put us over the top was California Governor Ronald Reagan. His opposition to Proposition 6 killed it for sure.” And when Briggs, the author of the initiative, was “asked by reporters who was to blame for its ignominious defeat, . . . he simply replied: ‘Ronald Reagan.’”

cd
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Everything useful in that report was already being said at the time of the campaign.

Gay marriage is ultimately about social acceptance, and you can’t ask for social acceptance while still wanting to hide in the closet. People will give you one or the other.

The No On Eight campaign team meant well but hadn’t accepted the hard lessons that were already evident at the time. Things such as Undecided being a polite way of saying anti-marriage.

I don’t buy that mis-voting claim. The pollings were clear. The graphs show that a lot of people were looking for a plausible excuse to vote Yes that they didn’t have. And there are a lot of post-election phenomena- popular measures and candidates usually get 5-10% more voter claiming to have voted for them than actually did so. After Nixon’s resignation a majority of voters claimed not to have voted for him, despite his 1972 win with 60%. There’s a lot of post-election rationalization going on. Presumably there’s a fair amount of guilt involved when an LGBT organization knocks at your door and asks questions, and you voted against them. That doesn’t mean these people will vote differently if/when they have to do it again. I think the whole supposed misvoting business is an artifact of a certain kind of political naivite and lack of experience inside organizations like EQCA.

Non-Prop 8 polling in California in 2008 in the mean showed 48% support for gay marriage. The election result hit it on the nose. If a lot of people misvoted, then they seem to have cancelled each other out remarkably well.

Here’s a recent poll that shows 51% support, in line with the 1% per year increase seen from 2005 until now:
http://www.publicreligion.org/research/?id=318

Ben in Oakland
August 3rd, 2010 | LINK

I really have to agree with CD. I do not and did not know one single, out, thoughtful, grounded gay person who thought that the no on 8 was anything but a slow motion trainwreck from the get go.

David, you can say we should all pull together now that we know whatever it is that is now claimed we do know. A great many of us, perhaps not so active politically (read: political creatures) but certainly knowledgeable about it and the issues involved, knew all of that long before the election. If you’ll provide an email address, I’ll be happy to send you my analysis written a few sdays after the eleciton.
As far as I can tell, the conclusions of this survey are not all that different from what I predicted.

It’s not that I’m all that smart, it’s just that I pay attention to what is going on. As an out, I’m-here-I’m-queer-get-over-it=kind-of-a-guy gay man for 40 years, I kept seeing the same stupidity being committed over and over in the ocurse of multiple campaigns.

Start with this very simple premise, obvious to Harvey Milk, who certainly influenced me hugely, and to anyone who is paying the slightest attention to what happenbs when they come out to people. THE CLOSET IS NOW, AND FOREVER HAS BEEN, THE ENEMY.The religious right is not all that important.

Very frankly, the gay political establishment lost a great deal of my respect and good will when we lost that election. We could have won and we should have won, but for that deeply closeted campaign.

Personally, I think this is where you must start. The continued disinterest of EQCA in what I have been trying to tell them for two goddamned years, (but which finally, they are starting to conclude based on a study that I am sure cost a few million at least, and WHO got paid for that?) is a good indication that this political, closet based malaise continues.

Tara TASW
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

The thing that had me banging my head against the wall was the apologetic tone of the No ads: “No matter how you FEEL abut marriage…”

The implication was “Of course you FEEL gay marriage is icky, we all do, but…”

Chrissypoo
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

All these facts, were actually learned in the original Prop 22.

Back then, I sat their livid seeing no response from the No on Prop 22. When I heard that the same people we running the No on Prop 8, I knew this was a lost cause.

EQCA must not be allowed to run any repeal effort. It has to be done by a new organization that will hire the best consultants and go on the attack, not waiting to respond.

Mark F.
August 4th, 2010 | LINK

Horrible campaign, of course. I recall watching some of the ads and thinking that if I was not a somewhat informed person already, I would have had no idea what the proposition was actually about.

When this issue comes up again, we cannot run the same stupid campaign again. We just can’t.

No more stupid focus groups. We must be clear that this is about gay people and refute the “we are coming to get your children” lies effectively.

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