Sunday, May 25, 2008

More "Education" Needed on the California Marriage Amendment?

Over at Get Religion there have been two stories on the reporting regarding the Los Angeles Times poll on the Marriage Amendment. In the first story, Mollie Ziegler pointed out the LA Times had spun the poll as showing a bare majority for the amendment when in fact, the poll showed there was a 19 point margin in favor of the amendment.

In the second story, Mollie discussed the response bias for controversial polling topics:
marriage amendments poll worse than they perform at the ballot box. This response bias exists because respondents to polls feel that they are under societal pressure to answer a certain way. It’s magnified in high-profile, controversial areas such as same-sex marriage,

Looking at the poll itself, for the question "Which of the following statements comes closest to your view? "Same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry", or "Same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions, but not marry" or "Same-sex couples should not be allowed to either marry or form civil unions" the results overall results were:

ALL Legally Marry: 35%, Civil Unions: 30%, Neither: 29%, Don't Know: 6%

18-34 Legally Marry: 35%, Civil Unions: 24%, Neither: 38%, Don't Know: 3%

35-44 Legally Marry: 38%, Civil Unions: 35%, Neither: 14%, Don't Know: 13%

45-64 Legally Marry: 38%, Civil Unions: 30%, Neither: 30%, Don't Know: 2%

65+ Legally Marry: 25%, Civil Unions: 35%, Neither: 33%, Don't Know: 7%

Well , we do see that there are a lot of 35-44 year olds who answer "Don't Know" compared to the other age groups. I wonder if this reflects a concern for giving their opinions on this controversial topic.

What interested me even more in the poll results was the surprising response of the 18-34 age group. We have frequently been told that as more and more of the young people vote, same sex marriage is inevitable because the younger generation has been "educated" to be far more supportive of it. For example, the LA Times article included this selected quotation:
"I just don't believe a man and a man should be married," said the 57-year-old Republican. "How can I put this -- it's just not right. I was brought up very old-fashioned."

Even within her own family, however, there are differences of opinion. A younger daughter, she said, feels "there's nothing wrong with that."

"To kids nowadays, it's like 'Oh well.' Maybe it is 'Oh well.' They see it. We didn't see it. It was one of those in-the-closet things."

But I am seeing less support for same sex marriage in the youngest group compared to the next two older groups. I see 38% of the 18-24 year olds say that they do not think same-sex couples should be allowed to either marry or form civil unions. Of 35-44 year olds, only 14% say "Neither", while of 45-64 year olds, 30% say "Neither". Only the people 65 and older had a higher percent that said "Neither" than the 18-34 year olds. Looks like the "education" of the younger generation is not working as well as we have been told.

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