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Maryland polls

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The other day, I wrote, regarding marriage equality in Maryland:

But it might end up going to a popular vote afterward. But polling indicates majority support for equality.

So I was startled just now to see an article (in the Christian Post) say:

A recent poll found that the majority of Maryland voters are against gay marriage, with 54 percent in support of marriage between one man and one woman compared to 37 percent that say marriage should be available to same-sex couples.

But a little judicious searching revealed that we're both right. And I strive for accuracy in my blogging where possible, so I thought I should post a followup note.

Here's what I've found about recent Maryland polls on this subject:

  • A May 2010 poll by the Washington Post found that “46 percent [...] favor legal same-sex marriage, 44 percent oppose it, and 10 percent have no opinion.” That was essentially a toss-up. Whereas “In late 2007, an identical Post poll question found 44 percent in favor [...] and 51 percent opposed.” So over the course of three years, there was a clear shift away from firm opposition, according to the Post poll.
  • In late January of 2011 (one month ago), according to a poll by Annapolis-based polling firm Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies, “51 percent of voters say they would favor a law in Maryland allowing same-sex couples to marry, while 44 percent opposed such a law and 5 percent gave no response.” That was the poll that I based my statement on.
  • A week ago, a new poll from Lawrence Research was released that said that 54% were opposed to same-sex marriage, with only 37% in favor. This poll was commissioned by a staunch anti-marriage-equality advocate, the National Organization for Marriage.

To be fair, NOM is correct in their statement that the Gonzales phrasing focused on giving same-sex couples “the same legal rights”; I would expect that phrasing to nudge respondents toward marriage equality. Whereas NOM's (oh, sorry, I mean Lawrence's) poll instead phrased the question as “should marriage be between a man and a woman, or should it also be available to same-sex couples?”—a phrasing that I would expect to nudge respondents at least slightly away from marriage equality.

Also worth noting that Gonzales had a bigger sample size, and is based in Maryland rather than Southern California. Still, I have no reason to believe there was any fault in Lawrence's methodology.

So it's hard to know who's right. It does seem clear that it's a contentious issue, though. And as always, regardless of what the majority really believes, I don't believe that this kind of issue should be subject to popular vote.

For more info, including links to both sets of poll results, see that last link above; it's a piece about the Lawrence poll, but it's on an LGBTQ website.

I have two main reasons for posting this entry:

  • To add nuance and possibly contradictory data to my earlier claim that Maryland polling indicated majority support for equality; I can no longer stand completely behind that claim. (I'll add a link from that entry to this one.)
  • Because I've now seen several news articles report the Lawrence poll but not mention the Gonzales poll, so I wanted to remind people that the Lawrence poll is not the only one out there.

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