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More confusing polling out of Maryland, as Question 6 gains major newspaper endorsements

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Yesterday, I wrote about a new Baltimore Sun poll showing a dramatic decrease in support for Question 6, the marriage equality initiative in Maryland.  Also yesterday, a Goucher College poll was released that found a confusingly contradictory result from the Sun poll, with 55 percent of respondents supporting the measure and 39 percent opposed.  Five percent had no answer and the margin of error was 3.79 points.  The Sun poll was conducted from October 20-23, and the Goucher poll from October 21-25.  Importantly, the Goucher poll did not include any likely voter screen, meaning that its results are probably not all that indicative of the support that we can expect for Question 6 next week.

On a conference call with journalists yesterday, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said that the campaign for Question 6 still needs to raise around $400,000 to push through until election day.  Marylanders for Marriage Equality has raised around $3.3 million so far, much more than the anti-marriage equality side.  O’Malley told participants on the call that, with one week to go, the campaign is “in good shape.”

This Tuesday, the Baltimore Sun published an editorial in favor of Question 6, urging its passage and writing that opponents of the initiative “have sougt to confuse the issue by warning of unintended consequences of marriage equality,” calling their efforts “scare tactics.”  In its endorsement, the Sun wrote:

The case for Question 6, which would affirm Maryland’s law authorizing same-sex marriage, is simple. It upholds the principle that the law should treat everyone the same. Marriage is both a religious and a civil institution. Churches, synagogues and mosques have always set their own rules about which marriages they recognize, and this law does not change that fact. What it does is to ensure that no Marylander faces discrimination under the law when it comes to one of the state’s fundamental institutions.

Yesterday, the Washington Post joined the Baltimore Sun and published its own endorsement of Question 6:
Gay marriage has failed so far in every state, 32 so far, where it has appeared on the ballot. That string of defeats will be broken as public opinion shifts. The issue will be tested again next week by referendums in Maine, Minnesota and Washington state, in addition to Maryland’s vote. The tide of history is clear; the main question now is the tempo of change. Marylanders should take pride if they put themselves at the forefront of the move toward fairness.
With less than a week to go until the election, the fight to pass Question 6 looks like it’s going to come down to a close vote.  Previous polling showing the measure passing by wide margins was almost certainly always prone to tighten.  At this point, the success of the measure will probably come down to ground vote. We’ll keep watching the polls, though, as the election approaches!


  • 1. Charli  |  November 1, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Really? Do WE get to vote on the heteros next?
    I vote me take up a vote to make them STAY married
    No divorce, so says their scripture

  • 2. Charli  |  November 1, 2012 at 9:12 am

    WE not me!!! iPhone frustrations

  • 3. jpmassar  |  November 1, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Not only does the Goucher poll "not include any likely voter screen" but it is not even a poll of registered voters! It is a poll of all adults.

    And the poll isn't asking about the referendum, it's asking about same-sex marriage in general. So the poll really isn't indicative of anything relevant to whether marriage equality will be upheld five days from now in Maryland.

  • 4. Seth from Maryland  |  November 1, 2012 at 9:59 am

    i know right, nethier this poll nor the Baltimore Sun Poll have given me any clue as to what might happen election day, i guess its just going come down to the ground game

  • 5. PDx_Str8_Supporter  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Keep pushing hard – in 6 days we can rest.

    My thoughts and hopes go out to those feeling the effects of Sandy….

  • 6. Bryce in DC and KS  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:43 am

    From a political scientist:
    Likely voter models are almost always not "screens" but rather post-estimation. (A screen would drive down the sample size, which would cost precision in the results, meaning that they would actually be less useful than raw registered voter numbers.) They are usually just weighting the raw findings based on turnout models from past elections. In that case, a likely voter model would be very difficult at all in a marriage equality referendum because not every state has a referenda every year (like they do with Presidential or House elections).
    In other words: from the view of someone whose only mission in life is to statistically analyze polls, it really isn't that bad. (It's not nearly as bad as it was in North Carolina before that vote.)

  • 7. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I guess most polling organizations would consider me a 'maybe, maybe not' likely voter, even though the last time I didn't vote in an election (primary or general) was the general election in 2000, and that only because the commuter train ran VERY late, even though I had taken off from work early.

    From that time on until I retired, I voted before going to work, even though I either would be late for work, or I would have to take a taxicab from the nearest Metro station (and the Federal government allows people to take up to two hours off the start time or end of day, and the opening or closing time of the polls, whichever causes an employee to take the least time off.

    Now, since retirement, I can vote any time I want while the polls are open (usually mid-afternoon when the poll is least crowded). And since the voting place is about a block from my home, that makes it even easier to decide when to vote.

  • 8. Jamie  |  November 1, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    It would be even better if they would allow you to vote from the internet. I can pay my taxes on the internet, why can't I vote online? (a: because REPUBLICANS don't want to make it EASIER for generation XYZ to vote).

  • 9. _BK_  |  November 2, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Tbh, even I oppose electronic voting. All voting NEEDS a physical paper trail to ensure legitimacy. You don't want hackers flipping votes and whatnot.

  • 10. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Unless and until ALL malware is eliminated (and I don't foresee that anytime soon), I am against Internet voting.

    I recently got a malware through an ad on a website. The malware was attempting to redirect my browser (stopped by ZoneAlarm) to a site that would install a different malware on my computer. The site that was to install that different malware probably didn't know someone had planted the malware, as it was a 'freecause' site (a site I avoid as many 'freecausers' are way to strident). I have no idea what that second malware would do, but I wasn't even tempted to find out. ZoneAlarm told me it would crash my computer as soon as it hit my browser, and every time I tried to browse the Internet.

    Right now, it is too easy for Internet browsing to be corrupted, and as _BK_ points out, there are no trails, paper or otherwise, to ensure legitimacy.

  • 11. Seth from Maryland  |  November 1, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Does any anyone know how we are polling in Maine lately ? i've not seen any poll numbers there for some time

  • 12. jpmassar  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    The last poll I've seen was taken on 10/10. It was 55-39. There have been four polls take in Maine since Labor Day, the polling average of those four polls is 54.3 – 40.5

    It is odd that no public polling of Maine has been done in the last three weeks.

  • 13. Dan  |  November 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    The Goucher poll is useless. But several other polls, including one by WaPo and another by PPP, showed us in the mid-50s. So the Baltimore Sun poll is by far the most pessimistic. I fully expected tightening, as one would ordinarily allocate all undecideds to the no side anyway. But the Sun also showed actual deterioration in the yes side and that was surprising.

    At this point, it is simply unclear who has it right, the Sun on the one hand, or the Post/PPP and others on the other hand. Ordinarily, I'd go with PPP, since they made the right all in CA, ME and NC. But the real difference in the polling results is in the Af-Am response. The Sun showed majority opposition while the other pollsters showed majority support following Obama's evolution. If you go back to the beginning of 2012, before Obama's announcement, all of the polls looked like the Sun poll. Was the post-Obama shift in Af-Am public opinion a real thing or was it illusory?

    This is really unchartered territory and I cannot say which pollster is right. We'll know soon enough. I'd give good money to see the internal polls from our campaign. In any event, it seems highly likely that the outcome, win or lose, will hinge on the African American vote. A win will be a blow to NOM's strategy of racial division and a boon to our coalition. A defeat will engender bitterness and present a challenge to repair the wounds.

  • 14. Anthony  |  November 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    The one thing that could put us over in Maryland is the wording of the initiative. I mean 90% of it is about protecting religious freedom, and 10% of it is about giving gay people a marriage license. If we pull it off on Tuesday, whoever worded the ballot language is a freaking genius. That's why wording is crucial no matter what. It's all psychology.

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