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Politico’s Same-Sex Marriage Poll Is Embarrassing — Here’s Why.

by David Badash on May 19, 2014

in Marriage,News,Politics

Post image for Politico’s Same-Sex Marriage Poll Is Embarrassing — Here’s Why.

Completing their swing to the far right, Politico today published a poll that finds 52 percent of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. The poll is embarrassing on a number of fronts, and given that it’s not a nationwide poll, should be summarily dismissed as not only not news-worthy, but not useful for any purpose, except to perhaps win favor among conservatives, and to get a few extra page views. No doubt, it’s already successful on those fronts.

First, Politico admits that the poll is only of 867 “likely voters in hotly contested areas.” Those areas include 16 conservative states — for Senate races — and 68 districts — for House races. That’s 84 separate areas polled, or just over 10 people per area on average.

So, if Politico believes canvassing 10 people in a single House race is going to give them an accurate response, well, they are more than welcome to do so, but I have every right to disagree.

Secondly, of those 867 “likely voters in hotly contested areas,” 100 percent claimed they would “definitely” or “probably” be voting in the mid-terms this fall. In the 2012 presidential election, only 58 percent of eligible voters (about 126 million) voted. In the 2010 midterms, when voter enthusiasm was far higher than it is today, only 82.5 million Americans voted. The Politico poll admits only 26 percent of those polled are “enthusiastic.”

The poll — and again, remember, it is of just 867 “likely voters in hotly contested areas” and those areas are all or almost all conservative — asks, “Do you support or oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry?”

52 percent oppose, 48 percent support.

This is not a national poll, and the sample size is so embarrassingly small to even call this an outlier would be exceptionally generous.

Every major national poll over the past four or more years has found the majority (a few found the plurality) of Americans support same-sex marriage, at rates of up to 58 percent.

Lastly, the poll was conducted over an 11-day time period, which is long for a political poll, and a margin of error of ± 4.1%.

The pollster’s claim that a “design summary for KnowledgePanel® is available here: Summary-Description.pdf ” is also faulty–as of this writing, that URL is not working.

If those working on political campaigns in these 84 separate “hotly contested areas” wish to use this poll to plot strategy, great, go for it, if you think the tiny, tiny sample size is good enough for your purposes.

But anyone who tries to apply these numbers to reality to make a statement, like, the majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, is in for a big surprise.


Image by David Goehring via Flickr

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JayJonson May 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Surely, the word you mean is "suspect" not "circumspect." Please consult a dictionary.

kalanac May 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Circumspect: Wary or unwilling to take risks.

I imagine they mean that Politico ran the survey in a manner contrived to suit their own ends, rather than take the risk of a proper, broad and representative survey that would likely weaken their point.

kfunk937 May 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm

I think you're spot on. "Circumspect" poll: bubble report; echometer…in other words, confirmation bias. One wonders why anyone would bother.

JayJonson May 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Please correct the headline. A poll cannot be "embarrassingly circumspect."

Diogenes_Arktos May 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm

circumspect: "Heedful of circumstances and potential consequences; prudent" (AHD)

on that definition, I suspect a poll really could be "embarrassingly circumspect" if it has been conducted with the utmost caution and thoroughness. It's just that in this case, the poll is the exact opposite. OTOH – perhaps the slant to the poll fits the "heedful of circumstances" of the base of the Religious Right.

smjaeger May 19, 2014 at 7:38 pm

sounds like the regenerus 'study' and poll designed to fit a predetermined finding.

Zack12 May 19, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Politico has been accused by both of sides of being in the pockets of the other party.
Bottom line, they do absurd headlines for click bait and nothing more then that.

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