‘The Prop. 8 Report’ examines what went wrong, what went right and how to finally win

David Fleischer from the LGBT Mentoring Project has authored a new report, The Prop. 8 Report: What defeat in California can Teach Us about Winning Future Ballot Measures on Same-sex Marriage.” The full report is here. The purpose of the report is explained in the Executive Summary:

The purpose of this report is to help supporters of same-sex marriage learn from the Prop 8 campaign. This knowledge can hasten the day that we are able to return to the ballot to win same-sex marriage in California or in any state where we have previously lost on the issue.

There is much to learn. Many commonly held beliefs about Prop 8 are factually incorrect. The data show that the pro–same-sex marriage side, the No on 8 campaign, made both smart choices and costly mistakes. This report aims to help our entire community recognize and learn from both. Understanding what happened will help all of us face and embrace the hard work ahead.

Fleischer also has an op-ed in today’s L.A. Times, which provides the highlights some of his key findings. For example, parents with kids under 18 shifted against support for marriage. Those ads worked:

One big question after the election: Who moved? Six weeks before the vote, Proposition 8 was too close to call. But in the final weeks, supporters pulled ahead, and by election day, the outcome was all but certain.

After the election, a misleading finding from exit polls led many to blame African Americans for the loss. But in our new analysis, it appears that African Americans’ views were relatively stable. True, a majority of African Americans opposed same-sex marriage, but that was true at the beginning and at the end of the campaign; few changed their minds in the closing weeks.

The shift, it turns out, was greatest among parents with children under 18 living at home — many of them white Democrats.

The numbers are staggering. In the last six weeks, when both sides saturated the airwaves with television ads, more than 687,000 voters changed their minds and decided to oppose same-sex marriage. More than 500,000 of those, the data suggest, were parents with children under 18 living at home. Because the proposition passed by 600,000 votes, this shift alone more than handed victory to proponents.

That’s very important info.

The report has a section titled, Most of the Conventional Wisdom about the Prop 8 Campaign is Wrong. For example, we can’t easily overturn the election. The other side would have benefited more if people weren’t confused by the ballot. So, we’ve got a steeper hill to climb than initially envisioned.

But, there is one piece of conventional wisdom that is accurate:

Mormon money was essential to the success of Yes on 8.

This one is true. According to Schubert Flint, the lead consulting firm for Yes on 8, the Mormons raised $22 million from July through September with 40% of the money or more coming from members of the Church of Latter-day Saints


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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