Study: Polling on marriage often misses mark

Study on polling in 26 states, including Oregon, shows errors

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 18 /Christian Newswire/ — A new study comparing polling in 26 states – including California – measuring voter opinion on ballot initiatives to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, shows that support for these measures has been under-estimated by an average of seven percentage points. In some cases, polls have under-estimated support for traditional marriage by as much as 21 percentage points.

“Recent polls published by California media outlets claim that Proposition 8 to restore marriage in California as between a man and a woman, is trailing among voters. These polls, including the Field Poll released this week, suffer from the same historic problem that other polls on this subject around the country have had: they do not accurately reflect the true support for traditional marriage,” said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for – Yes on 8, the sponsors of the California marriage initiative who released the study today. “For example, the Field Poll showed that support for Proposition 22 in 2000 was at 53% right before the election, yet over 61% of voters supported the proposition.”

The study looked at the same-sex marriage issue in 26 states where it has appeared on the ballot, going back to the first such campaign in Hawaii in 1998. Surveys published by news media outlets before an election under-estimated support for traditional marriage by an average of seven points. In only two states (Texas and South Carolina) did pre-election surveys accurately measure voter support for traditional marriage, and in both of those states support stood at 76%. Support for traditional marriage was under-estimated in 23 of the 26 states studied, ranging from a low of three points in Kentucky and Oregon, to as high as 21 points in North Dakota. Support for traditional marriage in California was under-estimated by eight points in 2000. In only one case, Arizona, did support for traditional marriage drop (by three points).

“I can’t say for sure why polls almost always understate support for traditional marriage,” said Schubert, who has twice been named the nation’s most valuable consultant by the American Association of Political Consultants, “but I believe it is because the media portrays same-sex marriage as being politically correct. Supporters of traditional marriage don’t want pollsters to consider them intolerant, so they mask their true feelings on the issue. The result is that support for traditional marriage rises considerably when voters cast their ballots in the privacy of the voter booth. It is my opinion that the same thing will happen in California when voters cast ballots on Proposition 8.”

To view the state-by-state results, visit

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