2006-MAR: Poll by Angus Reid Global Scan:
This poll was taken among adults in California. The found that a substantial majority of California residents favored legal registration of loving, committed, same-sex relationships, by half disapproved of allowing same-sex couples to marry.
When asked whether the state should recognize same-sex relationships, or merely consider them as roommates, their response was spit in a three-way tie:
This is a nightmare scenario for any politician: three options with identical support.
When allowed only the choice between two alternatives, the results were:
It is worth noting that in the year 2000, Californians were able to vote on Proposition 22 which banned same-sex marriage. It was approved by a 61.4% majority. At first glance, this would indicate a 10 percentage point drop in opposition to same-sex marriage. However, the two numbers represent different populations. The Proposition would include some individuals who were so opposed to SSM that they made a point of turning out to vote for the proposition. On the other hand, this survey selected people at random. Also, the proposition was called a "Defense of Marriage Act" which may have biased the voters in favor of the proposition and against SSM. Also, the wording of the proposition question and the survey question were different. All three factors would tend to bias results. We hope that Angus Reid will repeat the survey with the same questions in the future, so that trends will be detectable. 3
SSM trend from 1988 to 2011:
The name comes from the number of electors in the United States electoral college. He is an unusually accomplished statistician. According to Wikipedia, "Silver correctly predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states in the presidential election, as well as every Senate race in 2008." 4
During 2010-AUG, Nate Silver's blog on his FiveThirtyEight.com web site showed the following graph of public support of and opposition to SSM. 5 It was the first graph that we had seen that showed those the two sides to be evenly matched. He plotted all available polling data, having obtained much of his data from www.pollingreport.com. He also included data from the General Social Survey, which started asking about same-sex marriage back in 1988:
He used a locally weighted scatterplot smoothing (LOESS) analysis -- a standard method of analyzing data -- that was first developed by W.S. Cleveland in 1979. He noted that the long-term rate of increase of support for SSM had been between 1 and 1.5 percentage points a year, until recently. This is similar to the rate of increase in support for inter-racial marriages back in the late 20th century. However, from 2009-MAY to 2010-AUG, support surged ahead with about a four percentage point gain.
This was apparently caused by a drop in the "don't know" and "refuse to answer" numbers. He speculated that the surge may have been related to various LGBT-positive groups "... calling for full equity in marriage rights, rather than finding civil unions to be an acceptable compromise."
Later, in a similar article on 2011-APR-20, Nate re-plotted the data showing data from a CNN poll, which showed 51% support and 47% opposed. He wrote that this was the fourth credible poll since 2010-AUG:
A slim majority of voters in two public initiatives -- one in California during 2008 and the other in Maine during 2009 -- were opposed to SSM. However, Nate speculates, that if the votes were held today, both initiatives would probably approve SSM. He further speculates that if the current surge in support for SSM were to continue at the same rate, supporters would outnumber opponents by about 56% to 40% in the general population by election day in 2012-NOV. This would probably be well beyond the ability of investment in a fear-based TV ad campaign to reverse. He comments:
The trend towards more support for, and less opposition to, SSM continues into 2013. In 2012-NOV, referendums in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State legalized SSM in those states, and a referendum in Minnesota failed to add a clause to the state constitution to prohibit SSM.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still accessible today.
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