Is Geoff Kors Helping Spend More Money to Convince You He Needs More Of Your Money to Spend On Money Spending?


After spending millions of dollars on the No On 8 campaign, in 2008 gay marriage advocates came up short in California. But then out came a study concluding no amount of money actually can sway voters on this issue, because their minds are already made up. Does it make a difference the study was funded by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, which also funds Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who many folks blame for failed efforts against Prop 8?

EQCA’s Geoff Kors and NCLR’s Kate Kendell might’ve been wise to note the potential conflict of interest as they told supporters about the study’s findings. But if the goal of the research was to vindicate their groups’ failed 2008 efforts, and their decision not to push for a 2010 repeal, it actually raises more questions than answers.

Like how they are gearing up for a ballot battle in 2012, which will need tens of millions of dollars to have any chance of working — but that even if EQCA & Co. can’t repeal Prop 8 in 2012, they’re not to blame, because the study says money can’t change minds. (But maybe blogger stains can?)

As Patrick Range McDonald notes in a blistering commentary:

Reading between the lines, Kors seems to have other things on his mind than simply what’s best for the gay community. Armed with his study, Kors appears to be not only trying to set the agenda for the gay rights movement in California, but he’s sending a message to other gay rights groups — a pro-gay marriage ballot measure in 2012 is no sure thing.

As for his political analysis, convincing and moving voters has always been tough. How’s that news? It’s why campaigns are run by highly-skilled, battle-tested professionals — and not executive directors of gay rights groups who ran “No on 8” by committee — who spend tons of time organizing, plotting, polling, etc.

“No on 8” leader Geoff Kors, however, decided to take a vacation during the summer of 2008, just a few months before Proposition 8 was passed in November.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, came up with this chestnut about the study’s findings: “Clearly, the time to changes hearts, minds and votes to support equality is before a campaign starts.” That’s common knowledge, no?

Well at least funding the study did conclude one thing: We’re no further in organizing, mobilizing, and changing minds than we were in 2008. Success?

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  • Andrew

    2000 – Proposition 22 passes 61% to 39%.

    2008 – Proposition 8 passes 52% to 48%.

    There’s definitely change happening, and time seems to be the key, even if for many of us it’s much too slow…

  • Matt Foreman

    This is a complete – and deliberate – misreading of the report and what Geoff Kors said. (Read it yourself at http://www.haasjr.org/sites/default/files/Marriage%20Polling.pdf).

    The report, which was commissioned by my employer – but over which we had ZERO control or input – found that polls taken at the beginning of a marriage-related ballot measure are virtually identical to election day results – in other words, voters don’t tend to move. The report did not single out any state, including California.

    It’s important to undertand that there have been two types of campaigns over the last 10 years – 29 in which neither side invested significant resources and 4 (OR, ME, CA, AZ) where there significant sums were raised and spent. It (logically) appears that when not much is happening in the airwaves, voters don’t move. Likewise, as with other non-gay campaigns, when voters are being bombarded by messages from both sides, they tend to fall back to where they were at the outset. We don’t know what would happen if one side dominates and the other side doesn’t respond. It seems pretty clear that if we had not fought back hard in CA, we would have lost by a much larger margin. Or, if the other side hadn’t said a word, we would have won. But, no one can say for sure.

    The report also found that polls consistently overestimate the number of people on our side – by an average of 3%. Because the right has essentially run out of states to mount anti-marriage constitutional amendments, it’s now up to US to decide when to go the ballot to overturn them, including Prop 8. Until we have a more accurate way of polling, it would be foolhardy to go back to the ballot until we have solid majority support – somewhere around 53%.

    That public education work has to be done NOW – not in the hothouse of a campaign. That’s the point Geoff made. Why argue with that?

  • patrick

    I wrote about this study too.


    The problem is that the results promoted by EQCA only tell part of the story. Somehow a door-to-door campaign that is run for months ahead of time will have an effect even though two studies performed by the same researchers have proven that is not likely to work.

    One year ago we learned which demographic has moved toward acceptance/advocacy of same-sex marriage – and it’s not the right wing, conservative crowd in the suburbs.

    It’s the left. The liberal Democrats have sluggishly shed their bigotry. The bigoted Christian supremacists haven’t budged and they won’t according to what we learned this week.

    Why is EQCA wasting time and money chasing people that don’t give a shit about us? Why not pursue the one audience that can make a difference? The one group that still has room to improve their position? Read my post.

  • Silvain

    Just to echo Matt Foreman above: the study’s authors expressly stated that the results could have been very different if there had been a spending imbalance, i.e., where one side spends and the other doesn’t. If the spending is equal – either at a high level or a low level – then you wind up where you were at the outset.

    So the conclusion is: change people’s minds before the campaign, prioritize get-out-the-vote strategy during the campaign, and be absolutely certain that we match the anti-gay side dollar for dollar so as to create the wash-out effect described in the study.

    One last point: the people in Maine who supposedly had such a great GOTV effort really didn’t. It was much better than the No on 8 people, who basically had nothing. But No on 1 was really nothing to write home about. Their GOTV was run by hacks shipped in from DC and was pretty chaotic. Their efforts in places like Augusta – where they actually maintained an office – were a complete fail. Next time, we have to do GOTV the right way.

  • fuzzygruf

    The study doesn’t include how well the money is spent. Prop 8 proponents raised less money than the No-on-8 side, yet they had more commercials and didn’t wait until the last minute.

    Kors says that there isn’t enough time for 2012, and that’s what he said about 2010. So why don’t they just start already?

  • AndrewW

    Advertising doesn’t change “moral beliefs.” It never has. Only conversation and familiarity does.

    Talk to friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers. That’s a lot more effective than anything Geoff Kors and his millions have done. EQCA is a waste of money.

  • Bill Perdue

    EQCA = HRC West

  • AndrewW

    Anti-gay beliefs are moral beliefs – you can’t advertise them away. They only change when their is a personal reason – friends or family.

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