December 30, 2011
By Jacob Combs
Polling is an inherently inexact science (as any of the conflicting polls claiming to predict the results of next week’s Iowa GOP caucus demonstrate), but a new poll by the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund shows a strong majority of independent voters in California (60 percent, to be exact) in support of legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
Perhaps more significantly, a full 44 percent strongly support marriage equality, while only 30 percent oppose it. Independent voters make up around 20 percent of the state’s electorate. In 2009, a poll of independent voters conducted by over 30 California organizations, including the Courage Campaign, showed 49 percent opposed and 33 percent opposed.
The new poll, conducted by the firm Tulchin Research, comes a little over a month after a November poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) which showed 43 percent support for marriage equality, with another 35 percent supporting civil unions and only 21 percent against legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships. In February, PPP found 51 percent in support of marriage equality and 40 percent opposed.
History shows, however, that the answers people give pollsters can be different from the way they pull the level in the privacy of the voting booth. In May of 2008, the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle published the results of two conflicting polls only five days apart: the LA Times poll found Prop 8 polling 54 percent in favor and 35 percent against, while the SF Chronicle cited a Field poll showing Californians supported marriage equality by a 51-42 margin.
As we all know, Prop 8 did pass in 2008, 52 to 48 percent. What do you think? Is this new poll the sign of a true shift in public opinion?