Ah, the mystery of polling results. One day your up, the next day your down – seemingly with no connection to actual events in a campaign. Why bother even talking about them?
I get this kind of attitude. My obsession with polling data around the presidential election seems to have me googling “McCain vs. Obama polls” at least once a day to keep track of imperceptible shifts in the electoral map on RealClearPolitics. And you know what? It’s kind of idiotic. The polls are all so close that the statistical margins really don’t tell us much. And yet, I keep looking at them, willing Joe Six-Pack get some sense and poll reliably for Obama, flooding the electoral map with blue over night. No dice.
In the case of the polling data on California’s Proposition 8, however, I have different thoughts.
Amid little fanfare, CBS and SurveyUSA have released the first poll showing Prop. 8 passing by a small margin, 47-42. What demographic is behind the shift? Why it’s mine – the 18 to 34 crowd. In fact, according to this poll, my peers are the most likely of any age group to vote along with the 65 and older folks. Really, people? And everyone thought the young folks were the ones “driving the change” for the queer community.
On a campaign call that I missed this morning, Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners told LGBT media and activists that young voters are more likely to be influenced by advertising. Since this is the first big poll to come out since the substantial ad buys by both Yes and No campaigns (I’m sure everyone’s heard Gavin Newsom’s “whether they like it or not” quote ad nauseum in the last week), I would guess she tied the ad buy in with the switch in opinions among young voters.
Although I don’t like to hear that my generation’s believes are motivated more by what eye candy is on T.V. than any actual heartfelt beliefs, I’m not surprised by the data. Plus, does the No on 8 ad really appeal to anyone under 50? It’s a great ad for the older demographic and moveable middle opinion leaders that are still on the fence – think of your mother – but will young voters connect with an older straight couple talking about fair treatment for their adult children? That doesn’t scream “youth” to me.
I would hope based on this recent poll that the Prop 8 good guys put out something a bit more, well, MTV-based. I would also hope that news media pick up on the recent polls – including the No on 8 internal poll that supports the recent CBS/SurveyUSA results. Any allies the LGBT community has, both within the community and outside of it, need to hear that the battle has not been won in California. All eyes from around the nation have been focused on us in the media, and they’ve all sounded the death toll far too early for this proposition.
Wishful thinking on their part? I hope not. But regardless of the accuracy of polling data – just like the presidential polls, this data’s margin of error makes the proposition vote “too close to call” as well – this data needs to serve as a wake up call for everyone that cares about equality (much less the importance of the constitution and the judiciaries ability to interpret it independent of public opinion) to help in whatever way they can with the No on 8 campaign.