A Reminder About Polls vs. Reality


This year, like every year we have had a vote on marriage, the media and press are obsessing about polls claiming they show gay marriage will win in a couple short weeks.

It should of course be pointed out that marriage has historically under-performed in polls by at least 6-7 points, and more importantly, that every time marriage has gone on to win at the ballot box, there have been polls (often most the polls!) showing it losing before the final outcome emerges.

That's why we highlighted this Reuters article earlier in the week: "Ahead of Gay Marriage Votes, Advocates Skeptical of Polling."

Now, the past does not dictate the future. But we should remember that in 3 out of the 4 states voting on marriage this November, it was our side that chose to bring the issue to the people (in the fourth, we had already helped the people vote once to protect marriage).

And in all the avalanche of polling we've seen recently, marriage still has a clear path to victory in all four states.

In Minnesota, the Marriage Protection Amendment is leading in the polls (in fact, it is holding even or ahead among all age cohorts including 18-34 year olds and more Democrats support the amendment than Republicans do not support it). In Maryland, Question 6 is struggling to top 50% support, a dangerous place to be. In Maine, gay marriage is similarly struggling to reach the critical 50% support threshold, despite having a near monopoly on the airwaves since the Olympics. In Washington state, even with plenty of adjustments, polling still shows our opponents just barely edging ahead. Our experience tells us that as gay marriage approaches and becomes a real possibility voters like it less, and we have been on the air in Washington for far less time.

Now, as I said, the past does not dictate the future. Might we imagine that this year, with four contests being held in deep blue states, a president who has come out in support of redefining marriage, and with even more examples of intimidation and harassment of pro-marriage individuals and points of view, that marriage might be even more seriously under-polling this time around than its actual support level?

No one knows for certain. But one thing we do know for certain and one thing that will always be true...

Polls don't win elections. Hard work and people who vote do!