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: http://marketing.gfkamerica.com/knowledgenetworks/knpanel/docs/KnowledgePanel(R)-Design- 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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