Belt Law Blog

Gay Marriage Polls Not Yet Reflected in Votes


Although poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage steadily increasing, in all 32 states where gay marriage has been on the ballot, voters have rejected it.

In November, the streak might end as four states, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington state, are likely to have closely contested gay marriage measures on their ballots.

There remains, however, a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted.  Are conflicted voters telling pollsters one thing and then voting differently?Amy Simon, a pollster out of Oakland, California said, that it’s not that people are lying, but it’s an intensely emotional issue. He added that people can report to you how they feel at the moment they’re answering the polls, but they can change their minds.

Voters in California, in November 2008, approved a ban on same-sex marriage even though a Field Poll in September indicated the ban would lose decisively. California is an unusual case in that it is one of a few reliably Democratic states that have had a statewide vote rebuffing same-sex marriage in the state constitution.  The 32 states that have rejected gay marriage at the polls make up just over 60 percent of the U.S. population.

In liberal states, voters might vote to affirm gay marriage, but haven’t had the opportunity.

Over the past year, there’s been a stream of national polls indicating that the majority of people do support same-sex marriage.  The data released Wednesday from a  Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 53 percent of those questioned say gay marriage should be legal, while 39 percent say it should not.

Phyllis Watts, a consulting psychologist from Sacraments, California, believes a statewide vote in favor of same-sex marriage is likely to come soon  But she stated that any particular poll should be viewed in caution.  She said that people  are in a fluid state around same-sex marriage and they really can feel one way one day and another way another day.  Whe also added that she didn’t think the polls are able to track what’s actually occurring inside people’s hearts.


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