Friday, July 18, 2008

No to SSM, But...

A single opinion poll is often as moot and subject to reversal as the latest medical study. Even knowing that, we seem to have a media-fed national addiction. "See. See. That's what I've always thought," we hear ourselves saying.

Well, the latest national results from Quinnipiac University Poll might have a bunch of us humming introspectively. A pattern jumps out from 38 questions covering the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, the death penalty, and faith-based initiatives.

Specifically, even if people don't like something, they don't want a national ban on it. In general, they oppose narrowing of liberties by Constitutional amendments. That does not even conflict with the rush of state amendments prohibiting SSM that anticipated and followed our Goodridge decision in 2003.

Poll Basics: This nationwide poll was of 1,783 voters. Results have a margin of error of 2.3%. The questions seem objectively framed to me, with no obvious bias. However, they do cover a wide range of topics are enough to fatigue someone being polled.

SSM illustrates my basic conclusion. (Where figures don't add to 100%, I've excluded the don't know or no answer class.) Consider:
  • As a binary support or oppose same-sex marriage — 36% support and 55% oppose
  • Adding SSM and civil unions in contrast to no recognition for SS couples — 65% marry or union v. 29% no recognition
  • Should states recognize SSM marriages from other states — 44% yes and 50% no
  • Would you support or oppose a state law banning SSM — 45% support and 49% oppose
  • Would you support a U.S. Constitutional amendment banning SSM — 38% support and 56% oppose
Look at all the results to see both trends and demographic differences. In general terms, there are no surprises. Democrats, Independents, whites and women are more open to SSM. Republicans, men and blacks are less so. There were no age or geography breakouts.

Gun questions were similar in the sense of limiting Constitutional amendment. For example, although 54% favor stricter gun control (40% oppose), the extreme choice of an amendment banning individual handgun ownership found 17% favoring and 78% opposing.

Among the obvious patterns are:
  1. These respondents reflect many similar surveys and voting patterns. They still favor state action on and control of social issues. They want the feds off their local laws.
  2. The supposedly all-American and liberty-loving Republicans here again were the most willing to restrict freedom for homosexual couples. That seemed to be fine as a federal role. A survey high on a Constitutional ban on SSM was 56% for Republicans as opposed to 30% for Dems, 34% for Independents and 38% overall.
To an old pinko like me, these trends bode well. In the short-term for the November election, Dems should pound on the points of who fits the American ideas of justice and liberty.

I think Barack Obama blundered falling in line supporting FISA. Americans seem to have lost their taste for letting the covert agencies spy on us at will. Coupled with such disgraceful programs as our off-shore no-process imprisonment and torture is the plain-to-most-of-us fact that we are no more secure than before the feds started stripping and nibbling away our rights. The enemies from 9/11 are still out there doing their evil. We are spending billions while thousands of us die in Iraq instead of taking it to Afghanistan and the other enemy turf. George the Lesser got all the tools and cash he said he needed. In return, he built us...well nothing to brag about.

Longer term, the trends are still for gradually extending and broadening liberties. Even in SSM, for example, the trend is away from a Constitutional ban. The progression has gone from 51% opposing such a ban in March 2004 almost steadily up to 56% in this week's figures.

That likely reflects the slowly increasing national awareness that the anti-gay/anti-marriage equality predictions are invalid. Assuming Californians reject a state amendment reversing SSM there in November, a lot more Americans will get to know a lot more married SSM pairs. In this case, familiarity builds ease.

I do hope that for November Democratic politicians at both state and national level reach into the candor bag. Pull out the questions about do Americans stand for liberty and equality? Do they want these for everyone? Who will get us there?

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1 comment:

Uncle said...

It's the old thing, really. When the people lead, the leaders will follow. When the people lead very far away from the path of conventional wisdom--as seems to be happening now--the race goes to whoever can shake off convention quickest. Something for Dems to consider, and above all their handlers who know only the last election.