Survey Says

What Does the Top-Secret California Marriage Polling Reveal?


At 11:30am PST today, an umbrella group of gay organizations like the Courage Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Marriage Equality U.S.A., and Equality California will deliver the results from its polling of where California’s voters stand on same-sex marriage. Yes, this is the same data Fresno organizers wanted to keep secret. To those involved, the data is of utmost importance, because it could determine whether to push for a ballot measure overturning Prop 8 in 2010, or whether the analysis shows we should wait until 2012, or even head in another course of action. The results of the poll will be delivered over a conference call (only media are invited to join). But Queerty received a preview of what to expect.

“Opinion on marriage for same-sex couples in California is almost evenly divided, with opponents holding a 1% to 2% edge,” says the data from the Poll4Equality Coalition, which conducted the survey. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either good or bad news. Bad, because it shows we still have more convincing to do. And good, because it shows there’s only a small margin to overcome.

But knowing the state is nearly evenly divided on gay marriage, the important information the poll delivers is: If we’re going to put the issue on the ballot, how do we phrase the wording?

When asked, “Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose allowing same-sex couples to be legally married?,” the survey found 47 percent saying “favor” and 48 percent saying “oppose.” The data shows “support increases if the language specifically includes a provision that says no clergy will be required to perform a service that goes against their faith,” according to the the document provided to Queerty.

As for the 2010 vs. 2012 issue? “Modeling turnout scenarios for 2010 and 2012 indicate that there is a small advantage to same?sex marriage supporters in a 2012 electorate. This is based on a considerably higher turnout that is expected in 2012 due to the Presidential election. However, the additional voters that will come to the polls in a Presidential election are divided in their view of marriage for same?sex couples. Voters
that will only turn out in a 2012 scenario are divided between younger voters who strongly support same?sex marriage and older Anglo, Latino and African American religious voters who are opposed to marriage for same?sex couples. While our modeling does indicate that 2012 will provide an extra 1?2 points of support for a marriage equality ballot measure, this difference may be impacted by many other factors in the larger political landscape at that time.”

And what are those other factors? Other ballot measures put to voters, which can influence who decides to come out to the polls. Who ends up running for California governor. And who ends up squaring off against President Obama for the White House.

We’ll have more details from the call later today.

UPDATE: See our latest post on today’s call.