Juan and Ken Ahonen-Jover

Analysis of California Prop 8 Results

Filed By Juan and Ken Ahonen-Jover | January 08, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, eQualityGiving, marriage equality, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage

A new study of the California Proposition 8 results debunks many of the myths surrounding Prop 8.

Below are our conclusions after reading the new study released today by Professors Patrick Egan and Kenneth Sherrill about Proposition 8, which revoked same sex couples right to marry in California:

- The two most important characteristics determining the vote were party identification and ideology.
Those self-describing as Democrats or Liberals overwhelmingly opposed Prop 8. Those self describing as Republicans or Conservatives overwhelmingly supported California Proposition 8.

- The third most important characteristic determining the vote was religiosity.
Those attending religious services every week supported Prop 8 by 70%, those attending once a month opposed it by 52%, and those hardly ever attending opposed it by 70%.

- The fourth most important characteristic determining the vote was age.
All the ages groups opposed Prop 8, except for those 65+ who supported it by 67%. As importantly, when compared to another marriage initiative in California in 2000 (the Knight Initiative), all age groups increased their support of same sex marriage equality in 2008---except for those 65 years of age or older.

- African Americans and Latinos supported Prop 8 by 58 and 59% respectively---not 70% plus as reported in an exit poll on November 4, 2008.
Furthermore, their vote correlates more with religiosity than race.

- Contrary to popular belief, knowing an LGBT person was not a significant factor in opposing California Proposition 8.

You can download the whole study of California Proposition 8 Results here as well as the press release by the organizations who made the study possible.


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There are a lot of interesting facts to mull through in that report. I've just started reading it.

Churches are like parasites; when they become too strong they begin to interfere with the proper functioning of an organism.

This country will never truly join the twenty first century until it rids itself of this parasitic infection.

And, apparently, Republicans since they ranked higher. Conservatives too.

In my opinion, the study has some serious flaws. First, the sample:

"The survey included 1,066 respondents selected at random from state voter registration lists including an oversample of 266 African American, Latino, and Asian American voters" page 3

How many African American voters were included exactly? It appears to be less than 266.

Second, the conflict in the country between the LGBT community and the African American community when the survey was taken:

"Table 1 displays findings from a poll of California voters conducted by David Binder Research (DBR) between November 6th and 16th 2008" page 3

There were moments of ugliness during that time period. Those few days after the vote were extremely painful for many of us. There were reported incidents of harassment towards African Americans by the LGBT community. I don't know how many exactly or how they were confirmed. However, they were widely reported. If I was African American and was asked to participate in a survey, I might answer in a way that might cool down the flames. The people who participated volunteered to do so. We must wonder about the views of those who chose not to participate.

Third, the sponsor of the survey, The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund"

On their website under "Who We Are", it states:

"Through its grantmaking, the Fund aspires to serve as a voice of hope and a positive, unifying force for social change. We also seek to strengthen the bonds of mutual respect among all people to pursue common interests and contribute to the larger community."

Their purpose, although a very admirable one, is to bring everyone together. Prop 8 didn't bring the LGBT community and the African American community together although it might help begin a better dialogue.

It is easy to assume that the sponsor of the survey wanted to subdue the anger. That alone, can influence the survey results.

I love science because I think science can offer truth when science is conducted properly. This falls under the category of "soft science" because these types of things are hard to measure.

I believe the relationship between the African American community and the LGBT needs improvement. When we throw out these kinds of studies saying everything is fine, we shut down the opportunity for real communication. We cannot work on a problem if we pretend it doesn't exist. It is unacceptable for African Americans to be contracting HIV at the current rate. I believe homophobia is a problem in the African American community as well as every other community. Let's discuss the real problem, and not sweep it under the rug.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | January 9, 2009 6:09 PM

I couldn't agree more with your take in your last two paragraphs but I don't think your point about the survey sponsor is valid as they merely funded the survey, not designed or conducted it. Egan and Sherrill are highly competent professionals who would never have permitted undue influence from a funder of the sort you described.

That said, another flaw was lack of sufficient attention paid to the effect of the fearmongering about children and schools that went uncountered for such a devastatingly long time. It is unfortunate that a thorough investigation of the confluence -- and, more importantly, counterconfluence -- between all of the more thoroughly investigated demographics and the issue of parental concern was missed.

This is of particular importance as the forces arrayed against civil marriage equality are continuing that campaign of lies. For instance, Maggie Gallagher's Protect Marriage, a prominent Arlington Group member organization, is promoting it sub rosa in Iowa, using both the group's and local anti-marriage equality websites and cooperating churches as venues to poison the electorate literally years before voters would have a chance to vote on the issue.

I disagree with you about the survey sponsor. Egan and Sherrill might not consciously design or conduct the study in a biased fashion; however, subjective bias has been proven time and time again. That's why double-blind experiments are so necessary so as to avoid observer bias, experimenter's bias, etc. We have seen what happens when medicines are released that are based upon studies solely funded by pharmaceutical companies.

I have not seen the questionnaire that was used, nor did I see how the study was conducted. However, the leaders in the LGBT community actively lobbied to end the in fighting which is perfectly reasonable. I have to believe that some part of the reason that the study was conducted in the first place was to restore some calm within our community.

I have no problems with wanting to bring calm within our community. I just don’t think a biased study should be the way to do it.