Legal Insurrection: Much-Touted Poll on SSM Actually Shows Majority Oppose SSM


We've seen this before but it's always worth pointing out again -- polls claiming a majority support redefining marriage offer those they poll a false binary choice between redefining marriage and no legal recognition whatsoever:

As Professor Jacobson pointed out the other day, there is an effort already underway to game the refs at the Supreme Court, similar to in the Obamacare case, by creating a media and political narrative that the Court’s legitimacy would be threatened if it were on the “wrong side of history” on gay marriage.

That “gaming the ref” effort was seen the other day at Politico.

Politico’s 9 December headline blared, “Poll: Plurality Support Gay Marriage” which to the undiscerning reader sounds awfully like most people are in favor.

The poll was picked up in many places. The ever excitable writers at Slate saw Politco’s story and quickly ran their own entry with an almost word-for-word headline.

But using their own numbers, Politico could have equally, and perhaps more honestly have written, “Majority Against Gay Marriage“. Or they could have even said “Nation Split on Gay Marriage.” All would have been correct given the actual poll results.

The poll asked which of three views best described a person’s view on gay marriage:

Same sex couples should be able to be legally married;
Same sex couples should be able to enter into civil unions but not be allowed to get married, OR
Same sex couples should not be allowed to have any type of legal union?

Only 40%—a minority—agreed with legal marriage. But 30% said civil unions without marriage was best, and 24% said no marriage and no civil union. That makes 54%—a majority—against marriage.

So while is strictly true that a plurality do support gay marriage when gay marriage is put as one choice of three questions, it is also true, and more faithful to the data, to say a majority is against it. -- Legal Insurrection