Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New California Poll Shows Strong Support for Equality

The most recent Field Poll finds a big increase in support for marriage equality among Californians. When Proposition 8 was passed in 2008 polls show very slim support for marriage equality: only 51% of voters favored the idea. At the ballot box, after a long, extremely dishonest campaign conducted by the National Organization for (sic) Marriage, the final vote was 52% against and 48% in favor of marriage equality. This was within the standard error rate for a poll of that size. Marriage equality polled 3 points below the best polling guess of 51%, but the error rate was 4.5%.

The newest Field Poll, however, shows support that is significant enough that equality would pass even if the entire error rates goes against supporting the measure. The current polls shows that 59% of voters approve of the idea, that is up 8 points since Proposition 8 passed. When these question was first asked in 1977 support stood at 28%. Opposition stood at a high in 1985 when 62% of voters opposed the idea. Today 34% oppose the idea.

Democrats support marriage equality 69% to 25%; independent voters support by 67% to 25%; and Republicans oppose the measure 55% to 39%. This shows some substantial changes since 2010. In the last two years support for equality increased by 1 percentage point among Democrats. Among Republicans the jump was 13 points, from 36% to 39%. Independents increased their support from 52% to 67%, an increase of 15 points. Even among self-identified conservatives support has increased from 20% to 30%.

Support has also increased among all age groups. Voters 18-39 support equality by 69%, which is up 8 points since 2010. Voters 50-65 support equality by 59%, up 13 points. And those 65 and older are now evenly split 45% to 45%, an increase of 3 points in the last two years.

Sixty percent of women support marriage equality while 58% of men do. A majority of white voters, 64%, support equality. Among Latino voters support is 53% and among Black voters and other minorities it 50% support.

Non-Christian believers support equality by 85%, the second highest level of support is from those with no religious preferences, 80%. Among Catholics 51% support equality and all Protestants are divided 45% in favor, 49% opposed, but I suspect if you broke this down you would find strong support in the more educated protestant sects and low support among the less-educated fundamentalists.

If voters are offered three choices: marriage, civil unions, or no legal representation, the support for legal recognition rises to 80% of the voters (51% for marriage, 29% for civil unions) with only 15% saying they want no legal representation whatsoever—which seems be to the position of the Republican Party.

Once again, polls indicate that young voters and independent voters are taking a libertarian position. This trend, across numerous issues, implies that these two groups in particular have been moving in a libertarian direction for some years.

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