Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PPP splits the difference

PhotobucketThis is the third poll in the last three weeks that has asked Minnesotan's about the Marriage Discrimination Amendment. The first, the StarTribune's Minnesota Poll, showed Minnesotan's opposed to the amendment 55-39, the second, from SurveyUSA, showed Minnesotan's in favor 51-40 (51-48 if the "not vote on the measure" group is applied to the oppose column).

If you do some simple math and average those results you get 47.5% opposed to the amendment and 45% in favor, which is almost exactly the results that PPP got in their new poll.

PPP (6/1, no trendlines):
"Should the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"

Yes 46
No 47
Not sure 7
(MoE: ±2.9%)

So even though these three polls are all over the map, there is some consistency in their inconsistency.

It doesn't really help that all three pollsters used slightly different phrasing in their questions, but being the helpful people that they are PPP asked more than just one question about gay marriage.

PPP (6/1, no trendlines):
"Which of the following best describes your opinion on gay marriage: gay couples should be allowed to legally marry, or gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry, or there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship?"

Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry 38
Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not marry 34
There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship 26
Not sure 2

"Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal?"

Legal 46
Illegal 45
Not sure 9
(MoE: ±2.9%)

The results of the question about legality mirror the results of the constitutional amendment question almost exactly, but the responses to the question asking peoples opinion on gay marriage are telling. In this phrasing those who favor legal recognition for same-sex couples make up a whopping 72% of respondents.

In other words a significant number of people are getting hung up on the word Marriage, they think same-sex couples should be allowed to receive the legal benefits of marriage, but that they shouldn't be allowed to actually get married.

If you look at the crosstabs you can see that these respondents are; Somewhat conservative (54%), Independent (41%) and over 65 (40%).

This shouldn't be a surprise, but it certainly helps in to demonstrate how we need to go about messaging on this issue. We should be emphasizing equal rights and spousal benefits, while downplaying the importance of the marriage itself.

The silver lining is, as I have pointed out before, that this will be on the ballot in November of 2012.

As usual the generational divide on the issue is staggering- seniors support a ban by a 57/34 margin while every other age group opposes it. There aren't a lot of policy issues I would say this about but public opinion on gay marriage is shifting so quickly that it wouldn't be surprise me if opposition to this amendment grows by 5 or 6 points in the 17 months between now and next November's election. My guess is that an anti-gay ballot initiative that polls as a tie in May 2011 fails in November 2012.

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