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New poll shows major shift in opposition to Minnesota’s marriage equality ban


By Jacob Combs

In the midst of all the excitement yesterday surrounding the Ninth Circuit’s decision not to hold an en banc rehearing of the Prop 8 case, PPP released a new poll in Minnesota that showed a dramatic shift in public opinion against the state’s proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.  Only four months ago, a PPP poll found voters were in favor of the measure by a 48/44 margin, but in yesterday’s poll, more voters opposed the ban (at 49 percent) than supported it (at 43 percent).

The shift in opinion, not surprisingly, can be attributed to independent voters, who used to support the amendment by a 50/40 margin, but now oppose it 54/37 percent.  Partisan opinions of the marriage ban follow the pattern one would expect: Republicans, for the most part, strongly support it (with 74 percent in favor and 21 percent opposed) while Democrats strongly oppose it by a very similar margin (71 percent against, 22 percent for).  But, as PPP puts it, the shift in public opinion among independents could have political implications for both parties:

Independents coming a lot closer to Democrats than Republicans on gay rights is becoming something of a constant in our polling. The GOP seriously risks antagonizing voters in the middle if it continues to pursue a far right social agenda.

When asked whether Minnesota should have marriage equality, voters were 47 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed, roughly mirroring their opinions on the constitutional amendment itself.  When asked about civil unions, support rose to 75% percent of voters, including 55 percent of Republicans.

Of course, all polls must be read with a healthy dose of caution.  Well-designed polls can provide accurate representations of a population’s opinion on a given issue, but they are inherently smaller in scope than actual ballot votes.  And, of course, on issues of civil rights, there is the possibility that some voters are uncomfortable expressing their opposition on such issues to pollsters, but feel more comfortable doing so in the privacy of the voting booth.

Nevertheless, this new Minnesota poll adds to the ever-expanding picture of a dramatic shift in public opinion on the issue of marriage equality happening in the United States right now.  At the end of last month, a PPP poll showed that public opinion in Maryland on that state’s marriage equality law had shifted from significant opposition to significant support, and a recent PPP poll in Washington showed broad support for approving that state’s marriage law.  In order for these positive numbers to turn into real victories, marriage advocates will have to work hard to ensure that people come out to the votes in areas that are more supportive.  But the foundation certainly does seem to be there for several significant marriage wins this November.

UPDATE: CNN also released a new poll today showing majority support for marriage equality in the U.S., with 54 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed.  In addition, the number of Americans who say they know a good friend or family member who is gay or lesbian is now at 60 percent, up from 49 percent in 2010.  This is the first CNN poll to show a majority for this second statistic.  The full results of the poll can be found here.



  • 1. Bob  |  June 6, 2012 at 9:17 am

    that's encouraging,,,,, but capitalism won in Wisconsin,,,,

  • 2. Derek Williams  |  June 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Civil rights should never be measured by the tyranny of the majority, but having the support of the majority is very helpful indeed.

    The hearts and minds make it a lot easier to overturn discriminatory statutes and eliminate hate crime.

  • 3. fRaNkLiN  |  June 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

    70% of Americans believed that interracial couples should be banned from marriage when the Supreme Court said they couldn't.

  • 4. CHRIS  |  June 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Chew on THAT, Frank Schubert!
    I'll bet you wish you hadn't gotten involved in this Prop 8 stuff.

  • 5. jpmassar  |  June 6, 2012 at 10:02 am

    The polling average was also very accurate.

  • 6. Steve  |  June 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Interracial marriage didn't receive a majority until the early 90s

  • 7. Fred  |  June 6, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I don't know how all of these state-wide referendums became so common. They just didn't exist during the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's. Nevertheless, this is the world we live in. We really need a statewide referendum that goes in our favor (hopefully, more than one) to start putting to rest that tired old retort "every time it's been put to a vote…blah, blah blah." This year looks very promising : )

  • 8. Glen  |  June 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Sorry folks, I hate to break it to you (thumbs down away) BUT the poll numbers need to be MUCH higher than that to see this amendment go down to defeat in November.

    49% in the polls isn't going to cut it. You can automatically subtract 5% from the equality side and add 5% to the inequality side to see what the outcome will be on voting day. That's just a simple fact of reality in the way these things ultimately pan out.

    Whether it's a Bradley effect or just MUCH better turnout for the inequality supporters, that's how the difference between polling and actual votes turns out.

  • 9. Jacob  |  June 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

    That's probably true. But 49/43 opposed is better than 48/44 in favor. We have a good shot at winning at least one of the four votes this November. And our chances will only get better with time.

  • 10. Seth from Maryland  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:30 am

    just wanted to post this link to anyone who wants to participate, Minnesotans United for All Families is also having a money blog

  • 11. fRaNkLiN  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:37 am

    referendums have proliferated, but many state constitutions have required public votes for amendments since they were written. The last time North Carolina amended it's constitution was to ban interracial couples from marrying – the public voted on that one.

  • 12. fRaNkLiN  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I hear you. Loud and clear. Lots of work to be done.

    You should also remember that anyone that chooses not to vote in Minnesota is recorded as a vote against. That tends to be around 7% of the voters. While I'd expect this issue to inflame passions, there will still be a fair percentage of voters that just go to vote for candidates and leave the rest of it blank.

    Also. in this case, the wording of the question in the poll is the same thing that voters will see on the ballot. Unlike with the vote in NC, we aren't being fed polls that ask other things and pretend it somehow reflects how voters will vote on the ballot question.

  • 13. Jamie  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Disappointed that courage campaign would devote so many resources to asking for money for the hopeless fight in NC, but hasn't decided to participate in one that can actually be won at the time when the money will make a difference. I guess they'll wait until the last minute for their campaign in Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota and pretend that the money and effort spent in the final weeks these campaigns isn't completely useless.

  • 14. Seth from Maryland  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

    also this coming from Washington United for Facebook:We need your help to match our opponents by raising $200,000 by midnight June 15 to officially kick off this campaign. Will you donate $3 or more now to fuel the campaign to approve Referendum 74?

  • 15. Seth from Maryland  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Washington United United for Marriage i mean ^ lol

  • 16. EricKoszyk  |  June 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Please, stop it with the so called "Bradley Effect". It does not exist nor has it ever existed, at least not in a meaningful way.

    1) It undercuts our message that times are changing and that these fights are winnable; i.e., if the "Bradley Effect" exists why even bother?

    2) Polls regarding 3 of the latest votes on marriage equality measures (Prop 8 in CA, Question 1 in ME and Amendment 1 in NC) were all over the place. Due to the explosion of polling firms these days, there are a lot more errors than in years past.

    That said, most polls were within the margin of error of what the actual vote was and many polls showed our side losing in the weeks prior to election day. There was no "Bradley effect" between most of the polls and the actual outcome.


    ME Q1 PPP Nov 2, 2009
    Yes 51%
    No 47%

    Actual Vote
    Yes 53%
    No 47%

    (the No's are dead on, the Yea's are in the MOE)

    NC Amend 1 PPP May 1, 2012
    Yes 55%
    No 41%

    Actual Vote
    Yes 61%
    No 39%

    (Undecideds broke for the measure, No's were in the MOE)

    3) The "Bradley Effect" is misleading, since it did not really exist during the 1982 California Governor's race either. It's a made up phenomena. See article below.

    I can see our side winning all four initiatives in November. It is a presidential election, Democrats are more enthused than Republicans and people's views on this issue are changing rapidly. It will require a lot of hard work but it is still very much doable.

  • 17. EricKoszyk  |  June 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    If you know anyone in WA, please remind them to APPROVE Referendum 74.

    Approve = marriage equality

    Again, Approve = Marriage Equality

  • 18. Glen  |  June 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    So… basically your point is, this poll is pretty meaningless, and probably shouldn't even be a story other than to maybe show year-to-year public opinion trends, because the only accurate polls are those taken immediately before the voting.

    Okay then, I guess we'll see what the poll numbers are on November 5th, after the anti-equality side has informed voters about how their children will be anally raped by their teachers during same-sex orgy demonstrations in the classroom, unless this amendment passes.

  • 19. NancyH  |  June 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Man I hope this backfires on the anti-marriage equality folks. You’re just asking for it when you ask voters to consider a bill that doesn’t do anything and won’t change how Minnesota conducts marriage (irrespective of the state constitution).

  • 20. Sammy  |  June 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    very true

  • 21. EricKoszyk  |  June 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Wow. What a nasty comment.

    Since you apparently don't like to be presented with facts, and since you write as if you are a NOM troll, I don't see the need to discuss this (or anything else) with you further.

  • 22. Glen  |  June 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Yeah, that's right Eric, hyperbolically describing NOM's hideous tactics makes me a NOM troll. *rolls eyes*

    I see your hope is that these polls would be taken at face value to be a flame of inspiration that MN is winnable, and you simply don't want anyone splashing a little cold water of reality on that.

    Frankly I think its more important to not get complacent and work harder to sway public opinion, and defend against the rancid lies of the haters, than to say "Oh gee it's not so bad, we don't need to work our asses off here because 49% polling is good.".

    I for one think we should not be satisfied or comfortable until the polls show 55% or better opposed to this amendment, because frankly until a poll shows me numbers like that, I'm not going to hold my breath that we're going to win.

  • 23. Str8Grandmother  |  June 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Seth if I remember right Freedoom 2 Marry is supporting Maine, Minnesota and Washington but not Maryland. Do I remember right? We should all support every effort but I think because Freedom to Marry is NOT $upporting Maryland they will need a little extra. This is if my memory serves me right.

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