New polling that was released earlier this week in Maine claims a 21-point lead for supporters of marriage equality, with 7 percent undecided. While I do believe we have an advantage, I don’t believe it is this strong, despite similarities to June polling.
Critical Insights hasn’t publicly released the methodology behind this polling, or the full crosstabs showing positions based on demographics. Without this information it’s hard to truly tell how accurate the polling is, and we’ve learned from all of the previous marriage races that polling is often way off base. Factors like whether they reach people with just landlines, or if respondents are talking to someone on the phone versus engaging with a computer have an impact on results. And many voters may not like to admit to a person that they oppose marriage equality.
Regardless of the accuracy of this polling, the reality of the campaign against marriage equality is that it’s about to get a lot more aggressive. According to the Yes on One campaign (the good guys), the opposition is expected to begin airing ads next week in Maine.
And even before airing ads, opposition has already launched a campaign of deception. They’ve already placed letters to the editor and op-eds around the state claiming that domestic partnerships are the same as civil marriage equality… and, even better, that marriage equality is a first step towards socialism. It’s worth noting that the Bangor Daily News corrected the claim that domestic partnerships are the same as marriage after publishing the op-ed.
From the Erick Bennett op-ed (which ran in more than one outlet):
Eleven other countries have passed gay marriage: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden.
Passing gay marriage is not the only thing they have in common: They are also ranked the most socialist countries on earth. So what does socialism have to do with same-sex marriage?
To understand that we need to know what socialism is.
Socialism is a political and economic theory that believes that government should control everything. It is a stage between overthrowing capitalism and creating a communist government. [emphasis added]
Beyond the absurdity of the “marriage equality as a step towards turning America into a socialist country” claim, the lie that same-sex couples have all the rights of marriage under domestic partnerships is not unexpected. They’ve used it in ads before in an effort to claim that their opposition is not malicious (claiming, “we want to be tolerant, but…”).
And that’s the takeaway here: Wherever this polling puts us, it’s going to be a hard-fought fight with attacks that we’ve seen before – and, I suspect, some we haven’t. Frank Schubert, the strategist behind the campaigns to defeat marriage in most states since Prop 8, is behind the scenes on all four of this year’s marriage campaigns so we can certainly anticipate a lot of what he’ll throw our way all around the country. Good polling before the opposition starts spreading lies on the airwaves shouldn’t lull us into complacency on these campaigns.