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PPP releases encouraging poll numbers on Maine marriage referendum

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

Like Joe, I remember being up in Portland in 2009 waiting for the PPP numbers that ended up accurately forecasting the loss we would endure two days later (PPP had us losing 51/47; we lost 52.75/47.25). Ever since then I’ve taken their polls very seriously.

Today, a new poll out from the folks at Public Policy Polling:

It looks like Maine voters will reverse their 2009 decision and legalize gay marriage in the state this fall. 54% think that gay marriage should be legal to only 41% who think it should be illegal. And when we asked about the issue using the exact language voters will see on the ballot this fall, they say they’re inclined to support the referendum by a 47-32 margin.

There’s some indication that the exact ballot language is confusing people a little at this point. Only 67% of those who support gay marriage in general say they’ll vote yes while 12% say they’ll not and 21% are not sure. At the same time just 60% of those who oppose gay marriage generally say they’ll vote against the proposed referendum, while 24% say they’ll vote for it and 16% are not sure. My guess is at the end of the day voters will see this as a straight referendum on gay marriage regardless of what the language on the ballot says- and the 54/41 number bodes well for pro-equality voters.

Republicans’ opinions are pretty much the same as they were in 2009. But Democrats’ support for gay marriage has increased slightly, from 71% to 78%. And more importantly independents have gone from voting against gay marriage 52/46 three years ago to now supporting it by a 57/36 margin.

A few grains of salt. One, that thirteen point margin looks spectacular, no? Unfortunately, it is a long way until November. The widely respected Public Policy Institute of California poll showed Prop 8 going down in flames 41-55% as late as mid-September 2008 (see this SF Chronicle article with the tragic headline “Poll: Same-sex marriage ban not wooing voters” and a quote from PPIC’s chief pollster “That 55% looks pretty strong.” The Yes on 8 campaign ran their “whether you like it or not” and “princess” ads and the rest is history.

Two, studies of other ballot referendums on this issue have shown pre-election numbers for the pro-equality side always shrinking when it comes to the final result on Election Day. 54% often doesn’t hold.

Three, when asked about the exact ballot language we’ll see, support drops to 47/32 in favor of the referendum. Not exactly numbers you take to the bank.

Fourth, these numbers become frazzled if the Republican-controlled Maine Legislature puts a competing measure on the ballot (such as a measure to legalize civil unions), which is possible. Give voters an “out” to feel like they’re being pro-gay while voting against marriage, and research has shown they’ll take it. That would put these numbers in a different place.

A grain of salt the other way is that support for equality is certainly trending up, but in a campaign environment, that can change. All the more reason to have conversations early and often.


  • 1. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  March 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I posted a Quick Hit a couple minutes ago. Just got a mailing from our foes in Washington state.
    Interesting read….kind of nice knowing what they are planning and what their 'agenda' is.

    Preserve Marriage Washington – email blitz

  • 2. Stefan  |  March 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    For the record, the PPP is one of the most Republican leaning polling firms. If it says support is as high as it is it's a great sign for our side.

  • 3. jdg  |  March 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    We know it'll end up being close, but now's as good a time as any, especially with Obama and a new Senator being on the Maine ballot to bring out Democratic voters.

  • 4. Seth from Maryland  |  March 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    their poll is the one im going to be watching for in my state

  • 5. Melissa  |  March 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I don't mean to be one of those snarky people, but actually the republican bias for PPP is considered to be very small, especially amongst other robocall polls.

  • 6. Stefan  |  March 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    It's R+1, so it does have a clear Republican bias

  • 7. Bill S.  |  March 8, 2012 at 12:27 am

    I absolutely despise the terminology "illegal" to describe same-sex marriage ("only 41% who think it should be illegal.")

    Same-sex marriage is not *illegal* anywhere in the United States. Marrying, or attempting to marry, a person of the same sex does not carry any criminal or civil sanctions. It is just not legally recognized, but this does not mean illegal.

  • 8. Sagesse  |  March 8, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Not sure whether this is cause or effect, but if memory serves me, PPP polls 'likely voters', which would 'overrepresent' Republican voters, because Republicans tend to turn out to vote.

    Regardless, it is a good poll to watch for ballot outcomes, as opposed to raw public opinion. And a promising result for this particular ballot.

  • 9. Waxr  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Two problems with the poll:

    1: Same-sex marriage brings out a larger than usual number of right-wing voters, and they are opposed to it.

    2: The strongest support for same-sex marriage come from young voters, but young voters have the feeling that their single vote won't make any difference, therefore they stay home.

    There is no way to keep those right-wing voters home, and it takes work to get the young voters to the polls.

  • 10. Bob  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:16 am

    can the moderator please explain why my previous post was removed

  • 11. Bob  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

    love is like a virus it can happen to anyone at any time, so why is it that when two men or two women fall in love people tend to look down on them? Why do people judge these same sex couples if love can happen o anyone??????

  • 12. Jacob  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Sometimes longer posts or posts with hyperlinks won't go up. Don't know if that was the case with yours, but it may not have been anything more than that.

  • 13. Bob  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

    ah it was because of the link,,,, please read that speech and consider posting it,,,, it really shows what young voters are thinking,,,, it was written by a high school student, and speaks about their world view,,,

    also highlights the fact that after marriage equality ,,, the battle continues to end discimination please consider sharing it here thanks

  • 14. kate  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Bob, several of mine (which are always short) don't make it, either. I think there's a glitch. I really don't think they're pulling a NOMblog on us……….

  • 15. kate  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Too funny; here is NOM's title for their article on this exact info: "Left-Leaning PPP Poll: Maine SSM Still Failing to Achieve Majority Support." Yep, pigeon chess again………

  • 16. Bob  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:22 am

    it was the link then that caused the problem,,,, sorry you missed a great speech by a high school student,,,,,,

  • 17. chris hogan  |  March 8, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Unfortunately the haters will crawl over broken glass to vote down marriage. At some point, though, they will start to ask, "What is the point?," and stay home. Then we will win.

  • 18. Pal  |  March 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I don't think we will win at the ballot anytime soon. I really wouldn't give people that much credit to vote intelligently.

  • 19. Adam Bink  |  March 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    You need to send requests like this to our tech team (prop8trial at couragecampaign dot org).

  • 20. Straight Ally #3008  |  March 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    The only thing I'm confident about is that the margins will be better than 2009 – whether it will top 50% in our favor is the big question that makes me nervous.

  • 21. Rich  |  March 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    As I live in Maine and was active in garnering signatures to put the question on a ballot, I believe I have a better sense of the state's electorate than NOM. They suggest that the PPP poll has been presented inaccurately and that the good Bishop really doesn't mean that the Church won't go full force to defeat the measure. I am sure that, through their Churches, they will preach to high heavens on this. What NOM won't acknowledge but we know in this state is that Malone and his Church took a hugh beating due to the last go-around. They won the battle but lost the war. Malone and his Church are on our radar and the usual lies and deceits won't go unattacked this time. And, considering we garnered over a 100,000 signatures and we only
    needed 57,000, I would suggest that the electorate have moved forward and are ready to embrace equality.

  • 22. Bob  |  March 8, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I don't understand Adam,,, I've posted links before,,,, have you read the letter,,, was there something in the content not acceptable,,,, I was simply sharing like I have before,,, why a special request to post this link???? thanks

  • 23. Bob  |  March 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Adam please clarify,,, what request do I need to send to the tech team? request to post a link, or asking for an explanation about why my post was moderated?

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