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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine

2009: Public opinion surveys on Question 1

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Summary:

To date we have found five recent public opinion polls of Maine voters on the Question 1 referendum scheduled for 2009-NOV-03.

A majority "NO" vote of the referendum would activate same-sex marriage (SSM) in Maine; a "YES" vote would prevent the law legalizing SSM that has been passed by the legislature from taking effect.

Recording the date in the middle of each poll, results were:

Date during 2009 Poll "NO" (pro SSM) "YES" (anti SSM) Undecided or
no answer
Margin of error
SEP-15 KOS Media 46% 48% 6% ±4%
SEP-25 Greenberg et al. 50% 41% 8% ±3.5%
OCT-04 Omnibus Poll 52% 43% 5% ±4.9%
OCT-18 Public Policy Poll 48% 48% 4% ±2.9%
OCT-27 Daily KOS/Research 2000 48% 47% 5% ±4%

Even though the margin of error is quite large for each of the polls, there was a suggestion that support for SSM was increasing in the state, until the data from the fourth poll was publicized. However, the fourth poll did not poll a representative sample of the population.

2009-SEP-21: Poll results show even split for and against marriage equality:

KOS Media reported the results of a poll taken between SEP-14 and 16, inclusive. 600 persons were asked the following question:

"As you may know there will be one question on the ballot this November in Maine addressing the issue of same-sex unions. In part it will read "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry?" A yes vote takes away the right of same-sex couples to marry. A no vote keeps the right of same-sex couples to marry. If the election were held today would you vote YES or NO on this question?"

The sample size was 600 persons. The margin of error is ±4%. 1,2

Group Yes
(opposed to equality)
No
(In favor of equality)
Unsure or no response
All persons 48 46 6
Men 52 43 5
Women 44 49 7
Democrats 31 60 9
Republicans 74 20 6
Independents 45 52 3
Ages 18 to 29 43 52 5
Ages 30 to 44 45 49 6
Ages 45 to 59 51 44 5
Ages 60 & above 55 38 7

2009-SEP-27: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll: majority support SSM:

This poll was taken between 2009-SEP-23 and 27 among 808 registered voters. The margin of error is about  ±3.5%.

Question 6 in the poll asked:

"Now let me ask something else. One of the questions on the ballot this November will read as follows: 'Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" - If the election were held today, would you vote YES or NO on this question? 3

Results were:

Group Vote Yes Leaning Yes Leaning No Vote No Undecided
All persons 37% 4% 7% 43% 8%

Lumping together the solid voters with the leaning voters, and assuming that the undecided don't vote, the best guess of the outcome would be 50% No, and 41% Yes. Question 1 would fail; the law would be activated, and same-sex couples could marry.

2009-OCT-07: Omnibus poll: majority support SSM:

A Pan Atlantic SMS Group Omnibus Poll™ was conducted between 2009-SEP-30 and 2009-OCT-07 among 401 registered voters who said that they are likely to vote in November. The Margin of Error is ±4.9%.

One question asked was:

"What do you think is the most important issue facing the State of Maine today?"

Between 2009-APR and 2009-OCT, the percentage of persons who rated "gay marriage" as the most important issue rose from 0.0% to 5.7%.

Another question dealt with Question 1. It asked:

"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages? If today was Election Day, how would you vote on this issue?" 4

Group Vote Yes Leaning Yes Leaning No Vote No Undecided
All persons 40.9% 2.0% 1.2% 50.6% 5.2%

Lumping together the solid voters with the leaning voters, and assuming that the undecided don't vote, the best guess of the outcome would be 52% No, and 43% Yes. Question 1 would fail; the law would be activated, and same-sex couples could marry.

2009-OCT-19: Public Policy Polling shows an even split:

Public Policy Polling conducted a poll of 1,130 likely voters from OCT-16 to OCT-19. The results are curious. Previous polls, shown above, had indicated a progressive, slow rise in support for SSM with the most recent poll showing a 9% gap between voters prepared to vote No and Yes. Yet 12 days later, the new poll seems to show that the gap has completely vanished. 

Results were: 5

Group Vote Yes
(opposed to equality)
Vote No
(In favor of equality)
Undecided
All persons 48% 48% 4%
Women 43 52 5
Men 53 42 4
Democrat 25 70 5
Republican 74 23 3
Other political orient. 50 44 6
White 47 49 4
Non-white 55 35 10
Age 18 to 29 45 47 8
30 to 45 53 44 4
46 to 65 43 53 4
66 and older 54 40 7

There are three odd features about this poll:

bulletThe question asked was rather confusing:

"Question 1 for the upcoming Maine Referendum Election reads 'Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?' Do you intend to vote yes or no on Question 1, which would undo the law that lets same sex couples marry? If you will vote yes on Question 1, press 1. If you will vote no, press 2. If you?re not sure, press 3.

bulletTheir sample of the Maine population was not representative; the elderly were over-represented:
 
bulletThey report that 22% of the subjects polled were aged 66 or older.
 
bulletMapStats reports that in Maine, those aged 65 or older constituted 14.8% of the population in 2007. 6

Thus, unless there has been a massive increase in the percentage of the elderly in Maine over the past two years, the sample polled was not representative. Since support for, and opposition to, SSM vary so much with age, it is vitally important that the persons sampled represent a random sample of the citizens of Maine.
 

bulletPolls that we have seen on SSM in the past have shown that young adults showed the greatest support, the elderly the least support, and a more or less gradual variation with age. See the KOS poll above, for one example. However the detailed information on the Public Policy Polling website shows that:
 
bulletAmong the "Yes" voters -- those opposed to SSM -- the poll shows a curious peak among persons aged 30 to 45.
 
bulletAmong the "No" voters -- those who favor marriage equality -- there is a curious peak among persons aged 46 to 65.

Correcting the poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP):

Fortunately, it is possible to compensate for the unbalanced sampling by PPP and arrive at a reasonable estimate of public support and opposition to Question 1:

Total persons questioned by PPP: 1130; Total yes votes; 542 Total no votes; 542.

22% (249 subjects) were aged 66 or older. They voted 54% (134 votes) yes and 40% (100 votes) no

MapStats reports that in Maine, those aged 65 or older constituted 14.8% of the population in 2007.
Assume that those aged 66 and older in mid 2009-OCT constitute 14.5% of the population.

14.5% (164 subjects) would be aged 66 or older. They would have voted voted 54% (89 votes) yes and 40% (66 votes) no

Thus there would have been 45 fewer yes votes and 34 fewer no votes.

The new count of 1045 representative subjects would be 47.6% (497 votes) yes and 48.6% (508 votes) no. Question 1 would be very narrowly defeated, but only if the same percentage of persons of all ages actually voted.

2009-OCT-28: Daily KOS/Research 2000 poll: majority support SSM:

This poll was taken between 2009-OCT-26 and 28 among 600 registered voters. The margin of error is about  ±4%. 7

Group Vote Yes Vote No Undecided
All persons 47% 48% 5%

Comment on the polls; a prediction:

Unfortunately, for the first three polls and the fifth poll, the sample sizes are very small and the margin of error is thus very large. There appear to be very serious problems with the fourth poll. It is a pity that a referendum that is so important to the lives of same-sex couples has not motivated pollsters to conduct a truly representative survey of, say, 2,000 people which would result in a margin of error of about ±2.5% and an accurate result of the pulse of the people of Maine.

If these values are correct and remain unchanged until election day, then we predict that the majority will probably vote "Yes" and prevent SSM from being legalized in the state. That is because the 2009 elections are on an off-year. The voter turnout will probably be low this year. Older voters, who generally oppose SSM, are historically somewhat more likely to get out and vote. That is probably sufficient to make the actual vote unrepresentative of the will of most adults in Maine. 

Comment on the Question process itself:

That raises an interesting point that nobody seems to be discussing: what percentage in a referendum should be required to have it pass? If the question dealt with something like highway tolls or school taxes, it would seem reasonable that only 50% plus one vote could fairly be required to pass. But Question 1 is different. Here we have a group -- loving committed same-sex couples who had been granted the right to marry by the legislature and having that fundamental civil right removed. That is an important right because it directly affects the protections experienced by the couple and their children. It is obvious that many Republicans, and social and religious conservatives are concerned about the impact that same-sex marriage would have on the institution of marriage. But it is also obvious that some of the "Yes" vote is motivated by homophobia -- the desire to downgrade the rights of bisexuals and homosexuals because of hatred. Should a a simple majority of 50% plus one vote be sufficient to wipe out a civil right?

Apparently, the answer is yes in Maine. All questions put to the voters are considered equal. Unfortunately, Maine and the rest of the U.S. is packed full of minorities. Agnostics, Atheists, the elderly, evangelicals, Jews, men, model railroaders, Muslims, Roman Catholics, software geeks, young adults, and countless other groups are minorities -- some very tiny minorities. A "Question 1" referendum intended to remove civil rights from some of these groups could easily pass for the simple reason that the majority doesn't like them much. In short, everyone's rights are in danger of from the tyranny of the majority. If you are an adult Maine resident, voting "Yes" in this referendum might come back to bite you at some time in the future.

Site navigation:

Home> Religious info.> Basic> Marriage> SSM> Menu> Maine> here

Home> "Hot" topics> Homosexuality> SSM> Menu> Maine> here

Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Daily KOS: Maine Poll," KOS Media, 2009-SEP, at: http://www.dailykos.com/
  2. Michael A. Jones, "Gay marriage poll numbers in Iowa and Maine," Gay Rights Change, 2009-SEP-21, at: http://gayrights.change.org/
  3. "Democracy Corps - Maine: Frequency Questionnaire," 2009-NOV-27, at: http://www.democracycorps.com/ This is a PDF file.
  4. "The 42nd Pan Atlantic SMS Group Omnibus Poll," at: http://www.politico.com/
  5. "Maine split on gay marriage question," Public Policy Polling, 2009-OCT-20, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/ This is a PDF file.
  6. "MapStats: Maine," at: http://www.fedstats.gov/
  7. "Daily KOS/Research 2000 Maine Poll, Daily KOS, 2009-OCT-28, at: http://www.dailykos.com/

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-OCT-18
Latest update: 2009-OCT-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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