Dear media outlets considering polling in Indiana,
Please consider asking about the ENDA, or, more generally, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
I'm sure some of you are finally interested in Indiana again, interested enough to fund a state-wide poll. The last time you had to visit the Hoosier state everyone was talking about whether the Democratic candidate for presidency would be Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. What a difference two years makes - now we all want to know who the Democratic candidate for Senate will be now that Evan Bayh announced his retirement plans. And then you'll want to know if whoever is nominated has a chance at winning, and, if so, what she should run on based on what Hoosiers think about various issues.
Indiana will be interesting again. That's good.
One thing that's also interesting about Indiana is that both of its current Senators haven't committed one way or the other with respect to ENDA, legislation that would ban discrimination at the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Another fun fact about Indiana? It's still perfectly legal in this state to fire someone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. And it still happens.
It's not like you all don't think that polling on LGBT issues won't get readers. On the contrary, I count three media polls of the entire US from just the first month and a half of 2010 on the gay military ban, with several others performed in 2009.
People like talking about us, and people are interested in Indiana. Gays in the military and gays in the workplace are this year's LGBT issues, and everyone is more concerned about their jobs in this economy.
Indiana's Senators are holding off on taking a position on what would be the first piece of federal LGBT civil rights legislation, and the name being floated around the most as a replacement for Bayh on the Democratic ticket, Rep. Brad Ellsworth, has an interesting history with the bill. As Bil Browning describes:
At the same time, Rep Ellsworth confirmed to me and the crowd gathered around that he would vote in favor of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw workplace discrimination against LGBT people. Ellsworth cited his record as Vanderburgh County sheriff, where he implemented a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation.
While he did eventually end up voting in favor of a version of ENDA that stripped out transgender people, he also voted in favor of a Republican-led attempt to kill the legislation before the final vote by sending it back to committee for further study. Ellsworth hasn't co-sponsored the trans-inclusive version of ENDA currently sitting in committee and is one of only a few House Democrats not to publicly support the measure.
Polling data on this one bill, for which none exists, would allow reporters to form more informed questions to ask Ellsworth, should he be a candidate in what's sure to be a contentious race.
Just this past week, Rep Frank indicated that the House would is on track to pass ENDA. If that happens, the Senate may introduce its version of the ENDA. Wouldn't you like your media organization to be the only one with recent polling data on the ENDA and LGBT nondiscrimination legislation in Indiana as both Hoosier Senators will releasing statements, discussing the issue with constituents, and possibly voting on the bill? As contentious as LGBT issues have been in 2009, wouldn't you like your media organization to be ahead of the curve in 2010?
You may think it's a little weird for someone in one media outlet to pretty much beg other media outlets to poll on a certain question, but this is a question that is rarely asked, yet is still a controversial issue that most states are still debating. We want to discuss polling on this issue, but there just isn't much to talk about, not much that's recent, and even less that's on the state-level.
The Bilerico Project won't be polling Indiana because we don't have the funding to run a state-wide poll. Instead, slipping one question on this issue into a larger poll of Indiana that would, I'd imagine, ask many questions on people's personal characteristics, political ideology, and beliefs on a wide variety of issues wouldn't cost all that much more. For an extra couple seconds per interview, your poll would grab extra attention from a whole population.
I'll be reading your polls of Indiana no matter what you ask, and they'll get attention in the context of the horserace for a few days. But in order to get people to keep on clicking on that article, to keep on referring back to that poll for years after it occurred, a unique question about a controversial and important issue will increase that poll's shelf-life.
Thanks for your time,