Tuesday, August 3, 2010

L.A. Times: Who shifted in the Prop. 8 Debate?

After months (going on years) of having the defeat of Prop. 8 put on the shoulders of African-Americans (and apparently Prince), first the San Francisco Chronicle (in an article from last year) let us off the hook, and now the Los Angeles Times puts the blame squarely where it belongs:

Immediately after Proposition 8 passed, many who supported same-sex marriage tried to make sense of the results. A set of assumptions gained wide acceptance. Some are correct. Most, however, are just plain wrong. And it's crucial that we know what happened in the last election before launching another attempt to legalize marriage for all.

I [the article's author, David Fleischer] recently headed a team that analyzed data from polls conducted by the No on 8 campaign during the run-up to the election. Our analysis sheds new light on what fueled the Proposition 8 victory.

One big question after the election: Who moved? Six weeks before the vote, Proposition 8 was too close to call. But in the final weeks, supporters pulled ahead, and by election day, the outcome was all but certain.

After the election, a misleading finding from exit polls led many to blame African Americans for the loss. But in our new analysis, it appears that African Americans' views were relatively stable. True, a majority of African Americans opposed same-sex marriage, but that was true at the beginning and at the end of the campaign; few changed their minds in the closing weeks.

The shift, it turns out, was greatest among parents with children under 18 living at home — many of them white Democrats.

The numbers are staggering. In the last six weeks, when both sides saturated the airwaves with television ads, more than 687,000 voters changed their minds and decided to oppose same-sex marriage. More than 500,000 of those, the data suggest, were parents with children under 18 living at home. Because the proposition passed by 600,000 votes, this shift alone more than handed victory to proponents.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise. The Yes on 8 campaign targeted parents in its TV ads. "Mom! Guess what I learned in school today!" were the cheery-frightening first words of the supporters' most-broadcast ad. They emerged from the mouth of a young girl who had supposedly just learned that she could marry a female when she grew up.

Another good catch by Andrew Sullivan.