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Same sex marriage (SSM), civil unions, etc In Minnesota

Part 5: What do the polls predict?

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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2011-JUN: Statistical prediction of the outcome of the amendment:

Nate Silver maintains the FiveThirtyEight blog on the New York Times web site. He specializes in the statistical analysis of political trends and campaigns. He has built statistical models that attempt "... to predict the percentage of the vote that a gay marriage-related ballot initiatives would receive ..." in the District of Columbia and in each of the 50 states, assuming they were held on election day in 2012-NOV.  1 

On 2011-JUN-29, Silver published an analysis for DC and for each state using two techniques:

  • A linear model which assumes that the support for same-sex marriage increases at about the same rate every year, and

  • An accelerated model that uses the trend line from national polls on same-sex marriage.

The two models are needed because the rate of increase of support for SSM throughout the U.S. has accelerated in recent years.

He writes that the two models "... produce nearly identical estimates on the historical data, they diverge somewhat in their forecasts [of future data] because same-sex marriage appears to have gained support at a faster rate in the last couple of years." 1

He found that Minnesota was the 21st state in terms of support for SSM -- roughly halfway between the most supportive state (Vermont, which as one might expect is generally regarded as being the most secular state in the U.S.) and the least supportive state (Mississippi, which happens to be the poorest state in the U.S.).

He determined that:

  • The linear model predicted that the amendment would narrowly pass in Minnesota with a 54.1% vote share during 2012-NOV and thus reinforce the existing ban on SSM.

  • The accelerated model predicted that it would be very narrowly rejected a 49.3% vote share.

As of the middle of 2011, the outcome appeared to be too close to call with the data then available. At the current rate of increase in support for SSM among the general public, It would probably take until the year 2015 or so before one could be reasonably certain that this type of amendment would fail in Minnesota.

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Polls taken in 2011 by the Star Tribune newspaper and SurveyUSA:

Mid-date of poll Polling group Favor Amendment Oppose Amendment Undecided/
Not voting
Number polled Margin of error in (Percentage points) Margin in favor of amendment in percentage points
MAY-03
Star Tribune
39%
55%
7%
806
±3.4
-16
MAY-23
SurveyUSA
51%
40%
10%
552
±4.2
11
NOV-02
Star Tribune
48%
43%
9%
807
±3.4
5 2

 

The NOV-02 poll by the Star Tribune newspaper asked subjects: "Would you favor or oppose amending the Minnesota Constitution to allow marriage only between a man and a woman?"

Reporter Rachele Stassen-Berger commented:

"... battle lines will be drawn on clear partisan, generational, educational and geographic fractures.

Significant majorities of older voters, Republicans, voters with no college education and Minnesotans living outside of the metropolitan area support the amendment, which would have the effect of constitutionally banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Similarly, significant majorities of younger voters, Democrats, college-educated and metro-area voters oppose the amendment.

More men than women support the amendment, with 52 percent of men saying that only heterosexual marriage should be recognized while only 45 percent of women hold that view."

She quoted the beliefs of some Minnesota adults who expressed different reasons for their support for, or opposition to, the amendment:

  • George Werl, 62, is a communications consultant who said that marriage should be limited to heterosexual couples because it was designed to protect the children of those unions. He said: "How do we protect society with two same-sex people?"

    There is no indication in the article why Werl feels that the children of same-sex couples should not be protected.

  • Christina Edstrom, 28, works in the mental health field. She said: ""I believe that everyone deserves to be treated equally and everyone deserve to marry who they love."

  • Brian Finstrom, 27, said: "I can disagree with their lifestyle and yet I still can love them as people. I am a Christian and my belief is God created us male and female and he created us to be complete with one another."

  • Grace Ruzicka, 20, a student and bartender saw a "merging of church and state" from those backing the amendment; she said: "I definitely oppose it,"

The article reveals that:

  • Minnesotans over 65 years-of-age are the single strongest backers of such an amendment, with 70 percent in favor.

  • Among adults under 35 years-of-age, 58% oppose the amendment; only 33 favor it. 3

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Polls taken in 2012 by Public Policy Polling and SurveyUSA:

Results appear to be hopelessly incnsistent:

Mid-date of poll

2012

Polling group
Favor Amendment
Oppose Amendment
Undecided
Not planning to vote on amendment
Number polled
Margin of error in (Percentage points)
Margin in favor of amendment in percentage points
JAN-21
Public Policy
48%
44%
8%
-
1,236
±2.8
4
FEB-01
SurveyUSA
47%
39%
4%
10%
542
±4.2
8
MAY-09
SurveyUSA
42%
52%
6%
-
516
±4 .3
- 10
JUN-02
Public Policy
43%
49%
7%
-
973
±3.1
-6
JUL-18
SurveyUSA
52%
37%
6%
5%
552
±4.3
15 2
SEP-10
Public Policy
48%
47%
5%
-
824
±3.5
1 4
OCT-07
Public Policy
46%
49%
5%
1%
937
±3.2
-3 5
OCT-17
SurveyUSA
47%
46%
7%
-
±4.3
-1 6

The Public Policy Polling poll of JAN-21 showed the expected divisions among persons of different ages, genders, races, and political affiliation. Those planning to vote for the constitutional amendment, and against SSM, include:

  • 74% of Republicans.
  • 58% of those older than 65 years-of-age.
  • 56% of men.
  • 51% of non-white voters.
  • 50% of independents.
  • 48% of white voters
  • 43% of voters under age 29
  • 41% of women
  • 23% of Democrats.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Site navigation:

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Nate Silver, "The Future of Same-Sex Marriage Ballot Measures," The New York Times, 2012-1-JUN-29, at: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/
  2. "Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2012)," Ballotpedia, at: http://ballotpedia.org/
  3. Rachel Stassen-Berger, "Minnesota Poll: Marriage amendment divide is deep, Star Tribune, 2011-NOV-08, at: http://www.startribune.com/
  4. "Minnesota split on marriage amendment," Public Policy Polling, 2012-SEP-12, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/
  5. Tom Scheck, "Poll shows growing opposition to constitutional amendments," Minnesota Public Radio, 2012-OCT-08, at: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/
  6. "Poll finds marriage amendment a draw," MinnPost, 2012-OCT-18, at: http://www.minnpost.com/

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Copyright © 2012, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2012-MAY-02
Latest update: 2012-OCT-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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