nate silver

“I think we have to seriously consider whether there is some sort of a Bradley Effect in the polling on gay rights issues”

SOUNDBITES — “We had given Question 1 about a 70 percent chance of being defeated based on a combination of an analysis of the polling and a statistical model. I don’t know how much time I’m supposed to spend defending being on the wrong side of a 70:30 bet — we build in a hedge for a reason — but here comes a little self-reflection. As for the polling, I think we have to seriously consider whether there is some sort of a Bradley Effect in the polling on gay rights issues, although one of the pollsters (PPP, which had a very bad night in NY-23) got it exactly right. As for the model, I think I’ll need to look whether the urban-rural divide is a significant factor in a state in addition to its religiosity: Maine is secular, but rural. At the end of the day, it may have been too much to ask of a state to vote to approve gay marriage in an election where gay marriage itself was the headline issue on the ballot. Although the enthusiasm gap is very probably narrowing, feelings about gay marriage have traditionally been much stronger on the right than the left, and that’s what gets people up off the couch in off-year elections.” —’s Nate Silver, who dubs his website “Politics Done Right,” reflecting on his call for “No On 1”

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  • romeo

    I still think that we should just go ahead and accept the “everything but the ‘M’ word” that society seems to be prepared to give. That will make it a fait accompli, and in time the “M” word will just be accepted. Nothing wrong with increments as long as they’re going in our direction.

  • Bruno

    The “Bradley Effect” comes from humans not wanting to commit their vote to another human over the phone. Thus, we get higher numbers of “undecideds” who are actually anti-gay votes. It’s been pretty clear…the PPP poll had 51/47…turned out to be 53/42. The last Field Poll in CA last year had 49/44 for our side, which became 52/48 their side. All the undecideds in polls are actually votes against us, that’s all, and automated surveys like SurveyUSA and PPP circumvent this problem more.

  • Grey

    It’s not that they don’t want to commit their vote (otherwise they could just decline to do they survey) so much as they are *embarrassed* about their vote. While it’s sad that many people still feel it’s ok to vote against equal rights, if there’s any smidge of a silver lining, it’s that at least some of those people are embarrassed about their bigotry and know that it’s not cool. Twenty years ago, those same people would have more vocal about their prejudices. In a weird sort of way, I guess the Bradley Effect is some sort of midway measure of progress.

  • Bruno

    Yeah, I think the embarrassment is a good thing in a weird way, but of course it makes no difference when it comes to the polls.

    I just hope we can get less misleading polling on the issue, I think looking at it in the way I showed above may help the process. We also need to sadly admit that the local polls like Field, Public Policy, and the SMS in Maine, often do more harm than good to our collective psyche. Seeing inaccurate polls that say we’ll win 53-42 a few weeks before we lose 53-47 doesn’t help us, mentally or tactically.

  • NoDoubleStandards

    Agree it is a good thing in a weird way. The truth is that the Bradley Effect was a sign that the culture was shifting with regard to African American equality. You still had your bigots, but it was becoming more difficult for them to justify their bigotry in an Archie Bunker sort of way. It does not mean everything will be sugar and roses, but it does mean that the persuadables will increase. It also means as I have said before- we just need for more of the old bigots to drop dead.

  • Andrew

    If the question is Equality? The answer is Yes.
    If the question is Marriage? the answer is No.

    Religion believes they invented and “own” the word Marriage. They certainly can’t make that claim about Equality. “Equality” should always be the question.

  • ksu499

    Of course there is a Bradley effect when it comes to polling on same-gender marriage. That’s why I have said repeatedly that you don’t go for it until the favorables are at least 60%. Time and again we have seen where a pre-election low 50s% favorable turns into a narrow loss. CA should not try to undo Prop 8 until polling give same-gender marriage proponents a 60% majority.

  • Chris

    @Romeo (Comment No. 1) America hardly seems ready to give “everything but marriage.” I know all the hoopla is about Maine this year, but Washington state also had it’s own showdown with the gay-haters. Referendum 71 was essentially “everything but marriage” but it passed by only a very slim margin. Apparently, very nearly half of a state was not ready to give “everything but marriage.” Although I agree with you on the baby-steps method, individual elections aren’t going to change hearts and minds. It’s going to need gradual support from the feds before any sort of real *permanent* change occurs. Until then, prepare yourself for the issue of gay marriage being on the ballot more often than you’ll feel comfortable with.

  • AlwaysGay

    Andrew, you don’t know what you are talking about. The vast majority of heterosexuals don’t want equality for gay people no matter the issue. The “undecided” voters in these polls always go against gay issues, they are stealth voters. The Bradley Effect in these polls show the duplicity and embarassment of some heterosexual voters with taking away gay people’s rights.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    It is time to go back to Civil Unions and/or domestic partnerships especially when New York doesn’t deliver Marriage Equality. Our problem is Pride and semantics.

  • TP

    Our problem is an opponent who will use whatever means, wherever and whenever it chooses to. Think no scruples, guerilla war style thoughts, they are. Give them nicknames like “Bambi” and “butterscotch”, since they are only bred to be pets anyway. Talk about and to them like the infants they are. ALWAYS laugh in their faces about the sense of injured entitlement they throw around, and remember when in the schoolyard in a fight, always go for the eyes first. Blinds a muthafucka.

  • TommyOC

    @Chris: In WA it wasn’t about equality for the anti-gay side. A great many of them might actually like “equality” for teh gays. But when you have far-right nutjobs telling you that Measure 71 is the gays’ slick backdoor entry (pun intended) into marriage, well… people get a little paranoid. And bigoted.

    (And, on a separate subject: Measure 71 being a strategic move toward marriage, most probably through courts? The religious nutjobs are absolutely right.)

  • Merv

    I’m a little disappointed in Nate. He’s only now figuring out there is a Bradley effect?! That’s been obvious for years.

    Washington has chosen the incremental route to marriage, and it seems to be working so far. The first DP law was very limited, then expanded to include more rights, and then expanded again to the current “everything but marriage” law. R71 was not part of the plan. It was an effort by our opponents to stop DP by having the people veto the legislature. Fortunately, it didn’t work.

    There is no judicial back door, because the state supreme court already ruled there is no same sex marriage right. That avenue is shut down. That may have been a blessing in disguise, because it could have resulted in a state constitutional amendment that would be very hard to reverse.

  • Kurt

    “I think we have to seriously consider whether there is some sort of a Bradley Effect in the polling on gay rights issues”

    You just figured that out? Old News.

Comments are closed.