Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PAPOR Conference Debates Proposition 8 on Gay Rights

Mark Blumenthal of attended the Pacific Chapter of AAPOR Winter Conference in San Francisco. A major controversy – the liveliest panel – related to the passage of an anti-gay marriage initiative, Proposition 8. Blumenthal’s commentary follows with links to major California pollsters Mark DiCamillo of the Field Research and Mark Baldassare of Public Policy Institute of California.

December 15, 2008

CA Pollsters on Prop 8

By Mark Blumenthal

Last week, I attended the two-day annual conference of PAPOR -- the Pacific chapter of AAPOR, the American Association for Public Opinion Research. One panel included representatives of three California pollsters, the Field Poll, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and the LA Times Poll. Posted below are brief interviews I conducted via FlipVideo with Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field poll, and Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the PPIC.

The panelists (including PPIC's Jennifer Paluch and the LA Times' Jill Darling) generally agreed that support for the "yes" vote was trending upward in the final week of the campaign and that the final shift in the yes direction could be explained by the conflicting views of roughly one-in-five of those supporting the "no" side as of mid-October. The
final PPIC survey (fielded 10/12-19), for example showed the "no" vote leading, 52% to 44%, while also showing California likely voters divided evenly (47% favor, 49% oppose) on "allowing gay and lesbian couples to be legally married." As such, 19% of those who said they were voting no also said they were opposed to same-sex marriage. In PPIC's post-election survey, only 8 percent were opposed to same-sex marriage (see also Mark Baldassare's recent op-ed, "Why the Same Sex Marriage Ban Passed).

In the interview, Field's DiCamillo repeated an argument he made in a
guest contribution on our site shortly after the election, suggesting a "Sunday before Election" church effect:

The Field Poll, completed one week before the election, had Catholics voting at about their registered voter population size (24% of the electorate) with voting preferences similar to those of the overall electorate, with 44% on the Yes side. However the network exit poll shows that they accounted for 30% of the CA electorate and had 64% of them voting Yes. Regular churchgoers showed a similar movement toward the Yes side. The pre-election Field Poll showed 72% of these voters voting Yes, while the exit poll showed that 84% of them voted Yes.

I asked both Baldassare and DiCamillo about the long term increase in support for gay marriage and how that might impact future campaigns to overturn Prop 8. Both were cautious about expecting too much from "generational" change, particularly over the next 3 to 4 years.

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