Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Do Rhode Islanders Really Believe About Gay Marriage

A couple of things happening in RI today.

Brown Taubman Center Poll:

First, the Projo’s top of the fold piece on a poll taken by Brown University’s Taubman Center for Public Policy on Rhode Islander’s views on same sex marriage.  RI is dominated by blue collar, Catholic Democrats , and unless something happened while we were sleeping, the results of this poll seems very questionable, and I hope it places very large question marks on all polls coming out of Brown.  The Projo reporters would have been wise to vet the results further.  Maybe Projo isn’t paying their reporters well enough for them to do some extra legwork because internet competition is causing them to tighten their belts?  Maybe the reporters were so enthusiastically in favor of what they wanted to hear and believe that they figured, well, after all this is BROWN.  I mean BROWN University.  It must be true.  Fallacy of Appeal to Authority.

Here’s why the poll results are specious, and from their own data. The following is from the Taubman website:

May 2009 Survey Questions and Responses

  1. Would you support or oppose a law that would allow same-sex couples to get married?
    Support 60%; Oppose 31%; DK/NA 9%
  2. Would you support or oppose a law that would allow civil unions for same-sex couples?
    Support 75%; Oppose 17%; DK/NA 8%
  3. Do you think same-sex couples should be allowed legally to marry, should be allowed legally to form civil unions but not marry, or should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition of their relationships?
    Should be allowed legally to marry 55%;
    Should be allowed legally to form civil unions but not marry 22%;
    Should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition of their relationship 15%;
    DK/NA 8%

Okay, here’s what puzzles me: In question 1, 60% support same sex couples marrying.  Yet, in question 3, 55% support same sex couples being allowed to marry.  Now why such a quick shift from the same sample of respondents?  I realize there is a margin of error, but regular people if they said “support” in question 1 would also say “should allow legally to marry” in question 3.  Right?  Even though there is a purported majority in both, the disparity of the percentage leaves one to wonder about the accuracy of all of it, if you get my drift.

Also, there is no information on where the respondent sample came from: phone calls?  door to door polling? dorm room interviews?

There is specific mention of the difference between respondents and their age group – from the report:

Younger voters support same-sex marriage at a higher levels than older voters. For example, among 18-29 year olds, 87 percent support same-sex marriage, as do 70 percent of the 30-39 year olds. Among those 60-69 years old, however, only 49 percent support same-sex marriage, and only 32 percent of those 70 and older support same-sex marriage. The survey also uncovered partisan differences in support for same-sex marriage. While 77 percent of Democrats say they support same-sex marriage, only 28 percent of Republicans do. Among independents, 56 percent said they would support a law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

What was the size of the 18-29 year old respondent sample?  How did it compare with the 60-69 year old sample? How do we not know if, of the total 593 respondents, 500 were 18-29 year old Brown students?  We don’t. 

And in RI, everyone knows that liberalism, for the most part, resides among Republicans.  Democrats, as I mentioned earlier, tend to be more conservative.  RIer’s who’ve been around know this.  So why are the results of Democrat respondents versus Republican respondents so, well, non-Rhode Island-ish?  Republicans in RI overwhelmingly against gay marriage?  No way.  Democrats overwhelmingly for?  Not possible.  This is RI, not Utah.  Something is wrong with this picture.

Frankly I therefore don’t believe these results, and neither should you all.  And here’s a couple of other reasons why too:

On the Projo website which includes this article, signed in readers could comment, and one comment caught my eye.  It read: ‘Taubman Center "polls" are always to be viewed with a jaundiced eye as the sample is largely made up of the "East Side" group.  Skewed slightly toward the "Left".’

Someone else commented that liberal university polls predicted California’s favorability to gay marriage before the recent election and prop 8 which we all know proved the opposite.  And that was during a liberal Democrat landslide.

I am a realist, and believe somewhat along the lines of Whitaker Chambers, that we’re fighting a losing battle here, and ultimately the Left will win out on this issue.  After all when political conservatives like Ted Olsen are ready to argue in favor of gay marriage, it’s time to pack it up; but for now, let’s be real about what RIer’s really think.


The Governor Race:

Secondly, the news about Arlene Violet considering a run for governor.  Now I like Arlene as an entertainer in the same way I am amused and entertained by the likes of Rush Limbaugh (she is no Rush Limbaugh of course), but I would not like a Violet governorship.  What I see brewing is a major battle among the Democrats: Lynch, Roberts, Caprio.  I see Caprio potentially winning the primary, but that remains to be seen – I am not sure Lynch will win despite his positives – he is rather obsequious and smarmy and eventually that will wear thin.  Lincoln Chafee has already indicated he’s running as an independent.  The Republicans will not put up anyone as conservative as Carcieri unfortunately, we we’ll get the likes of Violet.  So can you see a Caprio – Chafee – Violet race in November of 2010?

I won’t predict further as I usually guess wrong, but you get the picture.  Not pretty.

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