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Poll Understates Support for Proposition 8

The California Field Poll published in newspapers yesterday significantly understates support for Proposition 8, according to Campaign Manager Frank Schubert. Schubert’s comments are based on a historic review of Field Poll data and a new study that compared polling to actual results in more than two dozen states, including California, where the marriage issue has appeared on the ballot.’s study, released yesterday, shows that pollsters have under-estimated support for marriage measures by an average of seven percentage points in the 26 states studied. In some cases, polls have vastly under-stated support for traditional marriage by as much as 21 percentage points.

The state-by-state study looked at the same-sex marriage issue in 26 states where it has appeared on the ballot, dating back to the first campaign of its kind in Hawaii in 1998. Surveys published by news media outlets prior to an election under-estimated support for traditional marriage by an average of seven points. In only two states (Texas and South Carolina) did pre-election surveys accurately measure voter support for traditional marriage, and in both of those states support stood at 76%. Support for traditional marriage was under-estimated in 23 of the 26 states studied, ranging from a low of 3% in Kentucky and Oregon, to as high as 21% in North Dakota.

In 2000, the Field Poll itself underestimated support for Proposition 22 by at least eight percentage points. That initiative ended up winning with overwhelming voter support — capturing over 61% of the vote. Frank Schubert, who has twice been named the nation’s most valuable consultant by the American Association of Political Consultants, said:

Recent polls published by California media outlets claim that Proposition 8, restoring marriage in California as between a man and a woman, is trailing among voters. These polls, including the Field Poll released this week, suffer from the same historic problem that other polls on this subject around the country have had: they do not accurately reflect the true support for traditional marriage.
I can’t say for sure why polls almost always understate support for traditional marriage, but I believe it is because the media portrays same-sex marriage as being politically correct. Supporters of traditional marriage don’t want pollsters to consider them intolerant, so they mask their true feelings on the issue. The result is that support for traditional marriage rises considerably when voters cast their ballots in the privacy of the voter booth. It is my opinion that the same thing will happen in California when voters cast ballots on Proposition 8.

Earlier surveys from the L.A. Times poll and Survey USA poll have showed Proposition 8/ with a slight lead, at 54% support.

Schubert said:

Our own internal surveys show that we are in a dead-heat on Proposition 8. The campaign manager for the No on 8 campaign has been quoted recently as saying the same thing. This race is very much up for grabs. It’s up to our campaign to convince voters of all the many reasons to restore marriage as between a man and a woman. I remain confident that we will do so.

Source: email.
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