The Public Policy Institute of California released a poll today about voter decision-making on Prop 8 (and some other props, including 1A and 4). Their conclusion is that Prop 8 passed because its Republican and evangelical supporters were highly motivated to pass it, whereas Prop 8 opponents lacked a similar sense of urgency. From the PPIC press release:
• Evangelical or born-again Christians (85%) were far more likely than others (42%) to vote yes.
• Three in four Republicans (77%) voted yes, two in three Democrats (65%) voted no, and independents were more closely divided (52% yes, 48% no).
• Supporters of Republican presidential candidate John McCain were far more likely than those who backed President-elect Barack Obama to vote yes (85% vs. 30%).
• Latinos (61%) were more likely than whites (50%) to vote yes; and 57 percent of Latinos, Asians, and blacks combined voted yes. (Samples sizes for Asians and blacks are too small to report separately.)
• Voters without a college degree (62%) were far more likely than college graduates (43%) to vote yes.
• While most voters (65%) consider the outcome of Proposition 8 to be very important, the measure’s supporters (74%) are far more likely than those who voted no (59%) to view the outcome as very important.
The poll also indicated that support for same-sex marriage was split, 47% in favor, 48% against, and 5% opposed. That suggests to me that the Yes on 8 campaign’s lying ads about the effects of Prop 8 had some effect on voter behavior.
Still, if the poll’s conclusions about voter motivation are accurate, then it adds more fuel to the criticisms of the No on 8 campaign for not having done an effective job in mobilizing its own base to vote, and not doing a good enough job of creating a sense of urgency around the proposition – and in reaching out to other communities, including communities of color. If and when this goes back to the ballot we can expect the anti-marriage forces to be highly motivated to vote. Our side, the supporters of marriage equality, need to be motivated as well.
The PPIC poll has a wealth of other information on state politics, from approval ratings of the governor and the legislature (Arnold fares better than the Legislature – 42% approve of Arnold, 49% disapprove, 9% no opinion; and a whopping 66% disapprove of the Legislature) and public opinion on the initiative process.
Robert Cruickshank is a historian, activist, and teacher living in Monterey. He is a contributing editor at Calitics.com and works for the Courage Campaign, in addition to teaching political science at Monterey Peninsula College. Currently he is completing his Ph.D. dissertation in US history, on progressive politics in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s. A native Californian, he was raised in Orange County and educated at UC Berkeley.