Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

California's Proposition 8: Why Pollsters Got It So Wrong

Posted Nov 11, 2008 at 1:53 AM
Maurice Berger, Political Director, PollTrack

California's Proposition 8: Why Pollsters Got It So Wrong. Virtually all statewide polls in California predicted that Proposition 8--approving a constitutional amendment that effectively bans "gay marriage"--would go down to a decisive defeat. The initiative won. Why did pollsters get it wrong. the answer is complicated, especially given the subject of the proposition: gay and lesbian rights. An analysis by the esteemed Field Poll suggests that many voters were ambivalent about the proposition, agreeing in part, disagreeing in part with its basic premises. Citing a Field Poll of California voters conducted in the days before the election, the organization notes: "A key finding in [our] final survey was that significant proportions of voters were conflicted about many of the competing arguments for and against the initiative, with many "yes" voters agreeing with a number of anti-Prop. 8 arguments and sizable proportions of "no" voters admitting to the merits of some pro-Prop. 8 claims." The analysis concludes that powerful, last minute appeals by supporters of Proposition 8 pushed some voters over the edge: "regular church-goers, and especially Catholics, were more prone than other voters to be influenced by last-minute appeals to conform to orthodox church positions when voting on a progressive social issue like same-sex marriage." For more of the analysis click here.