Alex Blaze

California's Prop 8 will fail - 6 reasons

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 18, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Arizona, ballot initiatives, California, field poll, fundraising, Gail Collins, marriage, money, Prop. 8

I'm going to predict, in all my blogger glory, that the marriage amendment in California, Proposition 8, will fail this November. Here's why:

  1. It's polling pretty badly. A new Field Poll released today says that likely voters are against the amendment to ban same-sex marriage 42-51. (There was another Field Poll with similar numbers two months ago - that was registered voters and asked about approval of same-sex marriage abstractly. This one's much better.)

    AZ's amendment was polling 52-40 several months before the election there in 2006, and they were able to turn those numbers into a victory.

    Yeah, so the fundies have to climb up a 9-point spread.

  1. People will get used to same-sex marriage by November. The reason the fundies were trying to prevent same-sex marriages from happening in California before Prop 8 got voted on was because they knew that people would get more and more used to the idea as they see it everywhere and just stop caring about it.

    It happened in Massachusetts, where just one year after same-sex marriage started there, 62% of people approved of same-sex marriage, 84% of voters said that same-sex marriage had a positive or no impact on quality of life, and 82% said that it had positive or no impact on heterosexual marriage.

    Gail Collins, in her column yesterday, explains why:

    After four years, same-sex marriage has also begun to feel normal in Massachusetts. It's not something that comes up in conversation much anymore. There is no greater force against bigotry than the moment when something becomes so routine that you stop noticing it.

    One state lawmaker who had originally supported a constitutional amendment against gay marriage changed her mind and voted against it when the measure went down to a final defeat in 2007. She told Pam Belluck of The Times about one of her older constituents who had nagged her to get rid of same-sex unions then turned around and lobbied her to keep them. A gay couple, she said, had moved into her neighborhood: "They help me with my lawn, and if there can't be marriage in Massachusetts, they'll leave."

  2. The Democratic base is energized, the Republican base is depressed. BarbinMD summarizes an AP/Yahoo News poll conducted mid-June on Republican/Democratic voter excitement:
    • 38 percent of his supporters [Obama] say the election is exciting compared to 9 percent of McCain's.
    • By 2-to-1 or more, McCain backers are likelier than Obama's to say the campaign makes them bored, angry and helpless.
    • More than twice as many Democrats than Republicans have gotten more excited about the campaign since the fall, 22 percent to 9 percent.

    Ouch!

    Democrats are more likely to go to the polls this fall. They're more likely to volunteer for their respective campaign. They're more likely to work GOTV operations, talk to their neighbors and friends about voting, email everyone they know stuff about Obama, and make sure they make it out to the polls. They're also more likely to vote against the proposition.


  3. Senator Obama's registering a bunch of new, young voters.His strategy has been, as Marc Ambinder said, "to construct an incredibly elaborate online interface to allow its more than a million donors and volunteers to directly persuade their neighbors through a variety of media."

    He just unveiled a competition to get Virginia to register 151,000 new voters, and he's giving his supporters an opportunity to meet him if they register 100 people. It's a 50-state voter registration drive.

    Because 18-34-year-old's are splitting Obama more than 2 to 1, and because the easiest way to get new registered voters, especially ones that'll vote Obama, is to hit up the youth, between now and November there will be a disproportionate increase in the number of younger voters in California who aren't being counted right now in the Field Poll. And younger people are more likely to be OK with the gays.


  4. Fundraising for each side is in a dead heat. This isn't so much a reason to jump for joy, but we're usually the ones out-cashed in these fights. The LA Times has each side of Proposition 8 at around $2.3M on July 16. (There are lots of great stats to wonk out on at that link, too.)

    It's not going to win this thing, but we're not the ones who have to move numbers. It's up to them to change people's minds.


  5. California has one of the best GLBT activist communities in the country. They were able to get same-sex marriage passed twice through the legislature without the courts stepping in. They have employment, housing, and public accommodations protections all around. They're organized, well-funded, experienced, and numerous. Several decades of queer migration to CA hasn't hurt them in this arena one bit.

This doesn't mean give up now. Each reason up there takes into account the fact that LGBT activists will keep on pushing as hard as they can from now till November. But I wouldn't be surprised at all to see California become the first state to defeat a marriage-only constitutional amendment.

I don't usually post predictions, but I'm throwing this one out there. Let's see how it shapes up in November.


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I hope you are right | July 18, 2008 4:58 PM

...but as they say complacency would be a huge mistake. Think of it as a campaign not just to defeat the initiative, but to defeat it by the widest possible margin. (And even still, losing is still a very definite possibility.)

And let's manage resources wisely: Yes, everyone in LA and SF needs to get out to vote, but we also need to do some very smart educating in Sacramento, Modesto, Fresno, Chico, Redding, Bakersfield, Orange County, Stockton, etc.

Don't beleive the poll numbers either. There are people who will vote for Prop 8 that when you stick a microphone or TV camera in their face will say otherwise.

Ut's why I'm subtracting 10 points from Barack Obama's polling onumbers to get a true picture of what the electorate is thinking.

I have to agree with Monica. Not to be cynical, but I have done a lot of survey research and in my experience, Monica is correct that nobody wants to look like a bigot, even just in a survey. Plus, again, speaking from experience, very few people who do not particularly care about the survey topic will bother to answer, so there is a big X Factor to consider.

I have to agree with Monica. Not to be cynical, but I have done a lot of survey research and in my experience, Monica is correct that nobody wants to look like a bigot, even just in a survey. Plus, again, speaking from experience, very few people who do not particularly care about the survey topic will bother to answer, so there is a big X Factor to consider.

Oops. Sorry about the double post. Thought my kid knocked me offline on the first try.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 19, 2008 5:21 AM

Thanks Alex, great post and chock full of info as usual.

Monica, I hope by the 2010 census more than 600,000 Gay households exist in America. By that, of course, I mean declared Gay households. I feel very good about this election as I believe folks have had enough of being scared to death every waking moment. Now I want you to take some alka seltzer for that pizza afterburn and get plenty of rest. Your country needs you once again...to vote in November.

Personally, I agree with Alex that it'll fail. But I think this is the sagest advice:

...but as they say complacency would be a huge mistake. Think of it as a campaign not just to defeat the initiative, but to defeat it by the widest possible margin. (And even still, losing is still a very definite possibility.)

6. California has one of the best GLBT activist communities in the country. They were able to get same-sex marriage passed twice through the legislature without the courts stepping in. They have employment, housing, and public accommodations protections all around. They're organized, well-funded, experienced, and numerous. Several decades of queer migration to CA hasn't hurt them in this arena one bit.

You hit the nail on the head, Alex, when you included that point --- if California can't defeat a referendum like this, then that speaks very badly for future initiatives in other states --- but I agree, my bet is that we'll win.

I also remember Prop 22 passing in 2000 despite all those GLBT organizational advantages.

Monica R., you are absolutely correct --- but that was before Lawrence v. Texas (decided June 26, 2003). Moreover, it was right after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and there was anti-Democrat right-wing backlash in the air. (Even so, Al Gore won the popular vote, if not the votes of the Electoral College.)

But our greatest hope is simply this: the world has changed a lot in the last eight years, including legalized same-sex marriage and/or civil unions in a handful of states --- again, complacency is not appropriate, but hope and hard work is.

Historical footnote: In November 1998 the California gay/lesbian community (GLBT was not even a term then) was faced with both Prop 96 and Prop 102 concurrently. Prop 96 stated that a rape suspect (not convicted) could be forcibly tested for HIV. Prop 102 required reporting of names for all who tested HIV+. The gay/lesbian community decided that defeating Prop 96 was virtually impossible --- and there were certain gay/lesbian voices that even supported it. As the campaign season advanced, the gay/lesbian political groups became silent on Prop 96 and concentrated on defeating Prop 102 --- which they did successfully. (Prop 96 passed overwhelmingly, and is still law in California to this day.)

So, in a word, the GLBT politicos in California are exceptionally competent and formidable --- but history has shown that they are not invincible.

Oops! Major typo! I meant to type 1988, not 1998. Sorry!
--- AJL

Alex, I certainly hope you're right. But, this one's too close to bet on.

In 2000 Prop 22 was is the same exact situation. It won 60/40. The same will happen again.

My position on homosexuality is that it is as wrong as adultery in heterosexual relationships. That being said i have nothing against those who choose a homosexual lifestyle and I am disgusted by the violence and hatred many right winged wackos have against those that are gay.

However...marriage has its roots in very conservative backgrounds. Its origins are tied to God and his commandments to multiply and replenish the earth between a man and a woman. THis makes marriage very sacred to me and I hold that commandment in high regard.

I ask voters everywhere, homosexual and heterosexual - vote yes on Proposition 8. Keep marriage between a man and a woman. Keep marriage sacred. Keep it where it began.

California has come a long way in eliminating those things that would alienate homosexuals. I think that is great. I am all for that. But not on this issue. Marriage does not provide any further rights or benefits anymore. It doesnt give homosexuals a more level playing field in the workforce, houseing market, benefits eligibility.

Voting no on Prop 8 takes away something sacred for most people.

We have voted many many times in your behalf, we have not blinked an eye as things changed in your favor, why, because it was right for those things to happen.

This one is not right. This is specific to our religious beliefs. Everything is the past was not. Dont take this away from us. Vote yes on Prop. 8

For those who don't care about God or keeping his commandments to keep sexual relations in the bonds of marriage - vote in our favor, it does you no harm to define marriage between a man and a woman. You lose nothing by voting for prop 8, you gain nothing by voting against it.

Short sighted living/voting brings short sighted results with very long term effects;...effects that really must be considered if one truly cares about one's society /country. Biologically substantiated marital unions (heterosexual) must not be taken lightly, in terms of the foundational benefits that this naturally occurring relationship (biologically speaking)confers upon the well being of our family structures, communities, and nation. Changing this structural norm and foundational pillar to merely appease a small group of people who'd have this societal structure defined otherwise is unwise....and very short-sighted. It's sad to read some of these blog pieces that seem to find satisfaction in change alone...and do not seem to count the costs to our nation while doing so. It is not a question of a persons or groups value. No, it is a question of our deciding to support a biologically substantiated, culturally confirmed marital relationship for the genuine long term stability and good of our nation/people. Doing the right thing in this instance means supporting the amendment....regardless of what "progressive blogger talk" might attempt to suggest. GET TO THE POLES AND VOTE FOR THIS AMENDMENT. YOUR SOCIETY AND COUNTRY DEPENDS ON YOUR "YES" VOTE.