Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mormons Push Questionable Poll on Marriage Equality

Brigham Young and some of his wives.
Our parent organization, The Moorfield Storey Institute, has put together an expose of a bogus poll being touted by the Deseret News, a newspaper that is owned by the Mormon Church. According to the "poll" some two-thirds of Americans are against marriage equality—numbers which contradict real polls done by reputable polling companies.

As our expose showed there are some facts which Deseret News choose not to share. Primarily, they left out that the so-called pollster was a leader in the Prop 8 campaign and a Mormon activist. He is not an unbiased researcher at all but someone who was actively involved in stripping gay couples of the right to enter into legal marriage contracts. We also revealed that he earned over $527,000 from Prop 8 for work he did for the campaign.

Most importantly we showed that the poll was highly questionable. A valid poll is one that weighs respondents according to demographic groups. For instance, a poll that consists of 90% Republicans is not valid. You want to poll a group that reflects the percentage of Republicans, Democrats and independents. If a poll is done at a rest home the results will be different than one done at a university. One tries to have a sampling which reflects the age demographics. A poll where half respondents are black will get different results than one where none are. Legitimate pollsters get this sort of demographic information and then weigh the results to reflect the actual population. 

What is clear is that the Mormon bishop who ran this "poll" didn't try to do that. Catholics tend to be more in favor of marriage equality than evangelical Christians. Catholics also make up 25% of the population, which is about the same number as evangelicals. The poll in question, however, sample a group where Catholics were under-represented at 16% but evangelicals were over-represented at 36%. Just that factor alone would skew the poll in an anti-equality direction.

But, there were other tricks used to produce results that would please Mormons, but would not reflect the truth. Seventeen percent of the poll's sample audience was over the age of 65, even though only 12.4 percent of the American population is that age. If you look at the sample you will see that 32% of the people polled were older than 55, whereas 20% of the population is that age. By over polling older Americans the pollster guaranteed a result that wouldn't reflect the actual opinion spread of the American public.

When you look at the entire poll it is clear that the pollster used a sample audience that was more conservative, more religious and older than what you find in a valid poll. It is a worthless poll, except as a propaganda tool. Our expose of the poll can be found at Huffington Post.

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