“Indiana Republican lawmakers say they have new poll results that show strong support for a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage,” according to an article published by WTHR, an NBC affiliate that seems to have not looked at the data in the poll. “In a poll of 800 registered voters conducted in January 2014, 53 percent of voters supported the amendment,” WTHR writes.
The Indiana GOP is trying to pass a law that would allow voters to decide whether or not they want to add an amendment to their constitution banning same-sex marriage — despite the fact that courts repeatedly are overturning these bans as unconstitutional, as happened in Oklahoma just yesterday.
The poll document, as published (PDF), seems exceptionally misleading.
First, those “800 registered voters,” according to the poll, published by Chesapeake Beach Consulting (which does not appear to even have a website) may be only registered Republican voters. There may or may not have been Democrats or even Independents in the poll, as the document states that the “representative random sample was designed based on the number of registered voters on the voter file maintained by the Indiana Republican Party.”
Second, The New Civil Rights Movement finds that the document states that the “fieldwork was conducted from January 6 through January 9, 2013…”
Yes, it says January 2013 — not, as the cover of the document states, 2014.
We’re assuming that “fieldwork” means the actual asking of questions.
So, it would appear — and it’s certainly possible, albeit improbable, given pollsters are or should be exceptionally accurate — that the poll is a year old.
But given that WTHR reports that the “numbers are a change from a September 2013 poll conducted by Freedom Indiana, a group working to defeat the amendment, which found just 34 percent in favor of changing Indiana’s constitution,” it would seem unlikely.
Much has changed in the past 12 months.
The Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA. More than half-a-dozen states extended marriage to same-sex couples in 2013.
Twelve months in the same-sex marriage battle is a long, long time.
And support is increasing dramatically fast.
But, for arguments sake, let’s for a moment pretend this poll is not from 2013 but from 2014. And let’s pretend it’s an accurate sampling of registered Republican, Independent, and Democratic voters.
It doesn’t matter.
“Majority rule” is not a valid means to determine civil rights. The law is. Marriage should never be put to a vote.
Below is the poll, via WTHR, and another link to a SlideShare version.
UPDATE: 10:30 PM ET –
The New Civil Rights Movement contacted WTHR to point out the issue with the dates and to question if the poll included Democrats and independents. Their response – disappointing from a journalism standpoint – was that the GOP told them the poll was conducted in 2014, so it must be.
As a journalist, I found that response unacceptable, and I emailed the pollster directly.
Bob Carpenter, the pollster, offered this response to The New Civil Rights Movement via email minutes ago:
“The date on the methodology page is a typo. The poll was conducted from January 6 through January 9, 2014. The data is not a year old as you suggest, but less than a week old. And, to you [sic] point about who was actually polled, this random sample survey is a poll that was conducted among a representative sample of Indiana voters, which includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents.”
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