Political Rhetoric Professor Debunks Maryland Poll Claiming Majority Support for SSM


Prof. Richard Vatz, who himself is not opposed to same-sex marriage, offers in the Baltimore Sun a thorough fisking of polls commissioned, conducted and used not to portray actual support for same-sex marriage but instead to undermine resistance to it:

"There was a brief explosion of optimism from those supporting same-sex marriage in Maryland last week after a poll by Hart Research Associates indicated that voters in the state support it by a significant margin of 54-40. No state has ever approved gay marriage at the ballot box, but advocates here and elsewhere — The New York Times published a piece titled "Hopeful news from Maryland" — contend that the issue hasn't polled this well before either.

They shouldn't get too excited just yet. Gay marriage is an issue in which polls don't necessarily reflect what voters will actually do at the ballot box because it is increasingly politically incorrect to oppose such nuptials. And there is particular reason to doubt the accuracy of this poll.

For the record, I do not oppose same-sex marriage, but I do oppose the use of unsound polling data for political purposes.

The results of earlier polls on the referendum to overturn Maryland's Civil Marriage Protection Act have generally been much closer. Advocates are spinning this one as evidence of a shift in public attitudes on the question, but there are reasons to doubt whether that is the case."