Polls vs. Reality

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You could excuse supporters of gay marriage for doing a double take at the findings of a just-released Field Poll. The survey shows 51% of registered voters supporting same sex unions and 42% opposed. 7% had no opinion. Those are the exact same numbers Field found in May of 2008 ... a few months before voters banned same sex marriage by passing Prop. 8 52-48%. What gives? Is the poll inaccurate? Are people lying to pollsters? Not really. The difference? Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll explains that both the 2008 and 2010 surveys polled a random sample of ALL registered voters. But that's not who votes. The electorate, i.e. who actually casts a ballot, is a very different pool of people. So ... the electorate in 2008 was a bit more conservative than the overall pool of registered voters. That's typically the case, since the people most likely to vote are older ... and the older you are the more likely you are to oppose gay marriage. Bottom line: Supporters of gay marriage will need a larger margin in pre-election polls to secure support for their cause on election day.

Back to the subject of Prop. 8 and the pending decision by Judge Walker: The N.Y. Times today has an interesting analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent 5-4 decision in a case involving gay students at UC Hastings. Check it out.

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