July 12, 2006

Even split on the gay marriage amendment.

A Wisconsin poll.
About 49 percent surveyed in the telephone poll conducted June 18-19 supported the amendment while 48 percent said they were opposed. The rest were undecided. The poll of 600 randomly selected adults has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Other polls conducted earlier this year have shown a higher percentage in favor of the proposal, typically around 60 percent in favor and 40 percent against.

There's a trend.
Wisconsin Republicans hope the issue will help them bring conservative and religious voters to the polls in their bid to defeat Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who opposes the ban. His Republican challenger, Mark Green, favors the constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows Doyle 13 percentage points ahead of Green. And, incredibly lamely, the Republicans don't even have a serious candidate running against Senator Herb Kohl. (But you can blame Tommy Thompson for that.)

29 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I wonder how Kevin Barrett will vote on it.

Doug H. said...

I wonder how the poll breaks down among likely voters. That's the really important statistic.

Simon said...

I wonder what the polling data was in states like Hawaii, Michigan, Ohio and Oregon was before those states (none of which are substantially less blue than is Wisconsin, it seems to me) voted for similar amendments by wide margins. Moreover, it is mistaken to think that this is a partisan issue: as I previously explained, when Alabama voted for a similar amendment, it is an inescapable conclusion that, even assuming solid GOP support for the amendment (a tenuous assumption at best), at least half of those voting in the Democratic primary must have voted for the amendment (and the more Republican voters voted against the amendment, the more Democratic voters must have voted for it to make up the shortfall).

It would be interesting to apply a similar analysis to the results in Hawaii, Michigan, Ohio and Oregon. For example, in Ohio, Bush got 50.81% of the vote; at the same time, 62% of Ohio voters were voting to ban homosexual marriage. It stands to reason that roughly 10% of Ohio's Democratic voters also voted for the amendment. In Michigan, Bush got 47.81% of the vote; at the same time, 59% of Michigan voters were voting to ban homosexual marriage. It stands to reason that roughly 10% of Michigan's democratic voters also voted for the amendment. In Oregon, Bush got 47.19% of the vote; at the same time, 58% of Oregon voters were voting to ban homosexual marriage; again, you're looking at about 10% of Democratic voters. And you can go on, right down the list. And needless to say, even if you look at the red states, where you'd expect such amendments to pass, while they certainly pass, what's interesting is that the majorities are higher than GOP majorities in those states. Those majorities have to be coming from somewhere, they have to be accounted for, and the only credible explanation, it seems to me, is that there is a surprisingly uniform pattern that about 10% of Democrats vote for these amendments.

No ban on homosexual marriage put on a ballot for the people to approve or reject has ever failed. On the contrary, they have passed, repeatedly and with support from people who call both the GOP and the Democratic Party home, and frankly, I really believe that some people - particularly those who are Democratic voters but who vote against homosexual marriage - tell opinion polls one thing and the ballot box another.

It is therefore no surprise that even when opinion polls give Doyle a 13% lead, support for the amendment is still, roughly speaking, about 10% higher than one might expect if Democrats were monolithic on this issue.

BJK said...

When a series of polls gives one result, and the next poll gives a markedly different result, it's an abberation.

If the markedly different result repeats itself over time, then you can call it a trend.

With just one poll, I'm more apt to believe that something in the internals is off (was it conducted over the holiday weekend, for example).

Joseph Hovsep said...

Simon, No one claims that Repbulicans uniformly support anti-SSM amendments and Democrats uniformly oppose them.

A nationwide Boston Globe poll from a year ago asked the following question: "Would you favor or oppose legislation in YOUR state that would prohibit marriages between gay or lesbian couples?" 46 percent of all voters supported it. 26 percent of Democrats supported it. 67 percent of Republicans supported it.

Simon said...

Joe,
Right, but the bottom line is that the fewer Republicans support the amendments, it stands to reason that the shortfall must be made up by Democrats. I can't prove, but I suspect, that people who are Democrats and who are opposed to gay marriage are probably not the most outspoken advocates of the ban. I think they're more of the Lois Griffin variety: they're not going to call CSPAN and advocate the ban, they're not going to tell their democratic-voting friends that they support the ban, and so I think many of the Democrats who end up supporting a ban will tell a pollster one thing and vote the other way. If most people had the courage to vote consistently with what they say in public, we could go back to public voting. The mere fact that there is private voting suggests that people are not always willing to say in public what they will tell a ballot box in confidence.

Joseph Hovsep said...

Simon, I don't dispute your logic, but the same can be said about the Republicans who support same sex marriage but feel uncomfortable saying so in public.

Lois Griffin seems not to be a good example. In the episode dealing with same sex marriage, she initially publically supports a bill to ban same sex marriage, but once she thinks about her own parents' dsyfunctional marriage, she changes her mind, saying "Oh my god, I've made a terrible mistake! I've been brainwashed like Elizabeth Smart."

Internet Ronin said...

I believe that, in most polls in the states that have voted on this issue, polls showed a much closer division of opinion until the campaign heated up about a month before election day. In the end, I imagine that Wisconsin voters will vote for the amendment by about the same margin as Californians and Oregonians did. Not my preferred outcome but one I expect.

Link said...

More on the poll here

Fitz said...

In the Massachusetts decision allowing the proposed marriage amendment to be considered by voters; there was a concurring opinion issued by two justices

“There is no Massachusetts precedent discussing, or deciding, whether the initiative procedure may be used to add a constitutional provision that purposefully discriminates against an oppressed and disfavored minority of our citizens in direct contravention of the principles of liberty and equality protected by art. 1 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights…..
….. Put more directly, the Goodridge decision may be irreversible because of its holding that no rational basis exists, or can be advanced, to support the definition of marriage proposed by the initiative and the fact that the Goodridge holding has become part of the fabric of the equality and liberty guarantees of our Constitution. If the initiative is approved by the Legislature and ultimately adopted, there will be time enough, if an appropriate lawsuit is brought, for this court to resolve the question whether our Constitution can be home to provisions that are apparently mutually inconsistent and irreconcilable.”


This is why Wisconsin needs the Amendment, why it will & should pass.
Unfortunately people fear being labeled bigots, so when a stranger calls an asks your opinion on a controversial issue, voters often lie.
Fortunately however, our democracy affords a secret ballot- were important decisions are made away from others prying eyes.

Doris said...

Simon, I think to some degree you're comparing apples and oranges.

In Wisconsin we're voting on whether we want to constitutionally ban civil unions and marriage for gay couples, as well as jeapordize existing protections, such as public employer health benefits.

Hawaii voted merely to grant the legislature power to limit marriage to a man and a woman. And Oregon constitutionally banned marriage for gay couples, but not civil unions. (Ohio's amendment was similar to ours, but as Anne and others have previously noted, Wisconsin is culturally and politically quite different from Ohio.)

There's a reason amendment supporters in Oregon limited their ambitions to a one-sentence amendment. Given Oregon's history of rejecting extreme anti-gay ballot questions (Measure 9 in 1992 and Measure 13 in 1994), I think they would have defeated Wisconsin's language had it been presented in 2004.

The Wispolitics poll is one of the first here in which voters were read actual language of our amendment. And the actual language splits them down the middle, even before advertising.

I do agree that a poll of "likely voters" would probably have shown a little more support for the ban -- but only a little. The folks polled have land lines and were at home on two of the most beautiful summer evenings we've had so far, screening out likely "no" voters, such as young folks and urban dwellers.

Fitz said...

Doris.


But the Amendment is identical to Michigan’s that is right next door

Doug H. said...

I found this quote on the Governor's race pretty telling:

"The Badger Poll results mirror a survey sponsored by the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute last month that showed Doyle leading Green by a similar margin among state residents. Other polls, which surveyed only registered voters, have shown a much closer race"

If the poll is not even registered voters, let alone likely voters, it is essentially useless.

Simon said...

Doris,
Fair points all, but:

"I do agree that a poll of "likely voters" would probably have shown a little more support for the ban -- but only a little."

A "little" more support? Well, I just have to ask you to quantify "a little," given that "About 49 percent surveyed in the telephone poll conducted June 18-19 supported the amendment while 48 percent said they were opposed Unless you mean "less than one percent," then "a little" will make all the difference. Even if the amendment passes by one vote, it still passes.

Doris said...

Fair points Simon. My premise is that, even if the poll were to shift to a seven-or-so-point spread, it would still be good news for the "no" campaign. I'm assuming here that momentum is on the side of Fair Wisconsin and not Vote Yes for Marriage; the more people know about the far reach of this ban, the less they'll like it.

I make this assumption because polls consistently show the majority of Wisconsinites (~60%) support either marriage or civil unions for gay couples. The ban we're facing bans both.

Michigan had only a couple of months to launch their campaign. Fair Wisconsin has already been working for two years.

Lawyapalooza said...

The other difference between Wisconsin and Michigan is hindsight. In Wisconsin, we can prove that these amendments go way beyond "marriage," by, for example, pointing out that in Michigan, the same group that denied the amendment was about domestic partner benefits and health care benefits turned around and sued to eliminate those benefits right after the amendment passed.

I wouldn't compare WI to Alabama, a state in which the voters recently rejected a change to the state's constitution to outlaw racial segregation. "Sweet Home Alabama" indeed...

But, the good news is that people who are educated about these bans almost always move to vote "no," if they are to move at all. There are some people on both sides who will not change their vote no matter what. Educating the others about this far-reaching ban and the lies fed to MI voters will make the difference.

You can say you saw it on Althouse first: WI will vote No in November.

John said...

Doug: "If the poll is not even registered voters, let alone likely voters, it is essentially useless."

You forget you live in the great state of Wisconsin where you are able to 'register' the day of an election with nothing more than a utility bill as identification!

I doubt many people - let alone those in the poll - understand the nuances of the proposed amendment as Doris points out that WI goes beyond some other states in what is prohibited and what is protected.

Danny said...

Comparing Wisconsin to Ohio is nothing short of treason.

Ben Masel said...

"Likely voters" is an especially soft metric in Wisconsin, where turnout among the youngest eligibles swings dramatically depending who and what's on the ballot.

"John" is correct that same-day registration is a big part of that. My downtown Madison precinct, just East of the Capitol, recorded a turnout of "112%" in 1992, as same-day registrants exceeded the number of previously registered voters who failed to vote.

downtownlad said...

Few things.

1) The poll is interesting. For the states that have had these amendments, no state polls have ever showed the voters opposing them. That includes Oregon. This is the first one that comes close.

2) Of the states that have had these amendments, overwhelmingly they have states that are majority anti-gay. Oregon might be the exception, but it does have a huge amount of evangelical whackos.

3) Opponents of same-sex marriage have not succeeded with their cause in the more liberal states yet, in terms of getting constitutional amendments (not talking about simple laws). I'm talking about states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, etc.

Wisconsin will be close. But the anti-gay bigots would probably be surprised that the entire country does not hate gay people. Especially in the civilized Northeast.

downtownlad said...

Also - it's obvious that these bigoted amendments have obvious support in both parties.

Minorities, who tend to vote democrat, are very bigoted towards gay people. Especially blacks.

Just ask any gay, black person - and they can describe the deep homophobia that exists within the African-American community.

Simon said...

I graphed out the Dem support for amendments here.

Danny said...

downtownlad is 100% right about homophobia in black communities that vote Democrat. If the amendment passes, it won't because the Vote Yes For Marriage crowd mobilized the rural voters, it'll be because Fair Wisconsin failed in Milwaukee. That said, I am confident that Wisconsin will be the first state to fail this sort of amendment. I am really excited for November!

Internet Ronin said...

DTL, not to pick nits, but I would not classify California as anti-gay, and a similar constitutional amendment was passed here with a great deal of ease.

Michael Farris said...

"Unfortunately people fear being labeled bigots, so when a stranger calls an asks your opinion on a controversial issue, voters often lie."

True.

"Fortunately however, our democracy affords a secret ballot- were important decisions are made away from others prying eyes."

I think a more important reason for the secret ballot is to be able to avoid recriminations for voting in the 'wrong' way. This was/is an issue in totalitarian flavored states where voting your conscience could easily by followed by insistent knocking on the door at midnight.

Being able to vote in secret for a position you're embarrassed to admit to publicly is a side effect, not the aim of the secret ballot.

Fitz said...

"Especially in the civilized Northeast."

??????!!!!!!!????????

Freeman Hunt said...

For example, in Ohio, Bush got 50.81% of the vote; at the same time, 62% of Ohio voters were voting to ban homosexual marriage. It stands to reason that roughly 10% of Ohio's Democratic voters also voted for the amendment. In Michigan, Bush got 47.81% of the vote; at the same time, 59% of Michigan voters were voting to ban homosexual marriage. It stands to reason that roughly 10% of Michigan's democratic voters also voted for the amendment. In Oregon, Bush got 47.19% of the vote; at the same time, 58% of Oregon voters were voting to ban homosexual marriage; again, you're looking at about 10% of Democratic voters.

A minor correction:

You can at least double most of your percentages of Democratic voters in the above passage.

Say you have 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats voting. 60% of all these voters vote for a ban. If all 50 Republicans voted for the ban, that means 10 Democrats did as well which translates to 20% of the Democrats, not 10%. % of all voters is not = to percentage of Democrat voters.

Fitz said...

Nice spot Freeman. I knew something was off with that (otherwise informative) post.

To add even more. I think its safe to assume that 100% of republicans don’t vote for these Amendments. (just to pat, lets minus 5%). I believe the Democrat opposition to ss “m” is about 25%. Split right down the middle, with half of all Democrats apposed. The other half (minus the activists) are not particularly energized or enthusiastic. The Republican base on the other hand is.

Amendment passes with room to spare.

sdRay said...
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