Least logical marriage article of the week

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2012

The Associated Press put out a real dud of an article this week pondering why the polls show majority support for marriage equality in the country but the votes in the states all went against us.

For now, however, there remains a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted. It’s a paradox with multiple explanations, from political geography to the likelihood that some conflicted voters tell pollsters one thing and then vote differently.

“It’s not that people are lying. It’s an intensely emotional issue,” said Amy Simon, a pollster based in Oakland, Calif. “People can report to you how they feel at the moment they’re answering the polls, but they can change their mind.”

California experienced that phenomenon in November 2008, when voters, by a 52-48 margin, approved a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution.

No it didn’t. Polls leading into the Prop 8 election showed that 48% of voters opposed the proposition (i.e. “told pollsters one thing”) and 48% voted no (i.e. then DID NOT vote differently). The poll numbers of those supporting the bill along with those ‘uncertain’ reflect the number voting for Proposition 8.

And as for the “paradox”, it’s only confusing to people who don’t own a calendar. Comparing current polling numbers with votes that are up to a decade old may make for sensational writing, but it’s logically absurd.

In about May, 2011, polls began to (unexpectedly) show that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. Other than North Carolina (in which the polls were mirrored in the vote), every single one of those “way the states have voted” occurred in 2008 or before. Oh, the paradox. Oh, the gap.

And that says noting to the irrationality of comparing national polls to state elections.

It’s pretty simple. Anti-gays went first for the low-lying fruit: Southern and other anti-gay states. Then they fought hard and employed a campaign of implied threats and blatant dishonesty to win in California. But with each election it has become clear that they are reaching – or have reached – their apex and their margins of victory are growing razor thin. There’s no mystery, there’s no drama. And soon – perhaps as soon as November – there will be no further advances of their anti-gay agenda.

Incidentally, Amy Simon opted not to respond to the offer to clarify her explanation.


June 1st, 2012

Maine was 2009, wasn’t it?

Not that it changes your point, of course, especially when that one was fairly close.


June 1st, 2012

There’s also voter turn-out. The sectors that support marriage equality most reliably happen to be the sectors that vote the least.

I’ve been a poll worker several times. I can count on my two hands the amount of people below late middle age that voted in my precincts.

The young and people up to 30 might be overwhelmingly in our favor, but they don’t vote, at all.


June 1st, 2012

I was going to make the point, or nearly the point, that Lucrece made: I remember seeing an analysis of the figures from North Carolina — just over 30% of registered voters voted in that election, of which about 60% supported Amendment One — which means that about 20% of North Carolina voters put that amendment into the state constitution.

That’s not really very impressive, but it is indicative of how important GOTV efforts are.


June 1st, 2012

The article is overstating it, but it’s hard to deny there is a bit of a “Bradley Effect” at work, here. Even in the most recent votes, we knew we would lose NC, but not by 20 points. And in Maine, most polls projected a win for us there in 2009. Even the brilliant Nate Silver thought we had it, and he subsequently conceded afterwards that the Bradley Effect is real. Voter turnout isn’t the issue, either. Most good polling measures likely voters only. However, the fact that we’re gaining ground is undeniable. I suspect we’ll see are first wins this November, in at least Washington and Maine.

Jay Jonson

June 1st, 2012

We may have lost North Carolina in any case, but one contributing factor to the blow-out was a fatally flawed election strategy in which our side basically failed to say anything good about same-sex marriage. We asked people to vote against Amendment One because it might cause “collateral damage” against others, while the other side said to vote against Amendment One because Jesus wants you to. We were lying because our concern with Amendment One had everything to do with same-sex marriage and very little to do with collateral damage. And by not defending same-sex marriage, we allowed the crazies to define homosexuality as perverted and dangerous. It was a stupid strategy because it was dishonest and because it signalled that we were ashamed of gay people and because it wasted an opportunity to educate people.


June 1st, 2012


Nate Silver never conceded to the Bradley Effect. He said the reason his prediction was wrong was because in Maine (like California), gay marriage was already legal. His model to predict success was based on states which were voting to ban in when it wasn’t explicitly legal yet.

As for North Carolina, the ban was passed during the election primary, where turnout was significantly lower then an election year. Same was the case in Maine. For the latter that alone will benefit us around 1 to 2 percentage points.

Michael K

June 1st, 2012

They may win in the voting booth but they have to lie to do it. The only way to combat the lie is to face it head on. Our children, our families should be in every add. We must find the adult children GLBTs have raised and put them front and center. The couples raising the discarded special needs children adopted in loving homes fighting against all odds to have a family. The couples raising biological children in partnership with their ex-husband/wife. You know the real us!
Our adds should say “Our 18 year old child can marry any time he/she wants but we his/her parents together 20 years are barred from doing so.”
We will not win playing nice trying to get others to represent the real lives, real families and our real truths. We need to represent Our True Selves and our Real Truths or we will continue to let them define who and what we are and what we want and we will continue to loose to their lies about us.


June 1st, 2012

Stefan, he did indeed concede to the Bradley Effect. I remember reading it specifically. And again, good pollsters take into account likely voters, so the fact that it was a off year may have effected the overall results, but wouldn’t have effected the polling.

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