Even with a Republican skew, public opinion on marriage equality is still gaining ground
Lambert, Edwards, & Associates, a PR firm led by Republican Jeff Lambert, released results last week from a poll they commissioned in late July that covered the topic of marriage equality in Michigan. Despite using a questionable data set, the results still show marriage equality making huge strides in Michigan. While the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan passed with 58.6% of the vote in 2004, this new poll shows that only 51% now oppose having marriage equality appear on the ballot and 41% in favor.
This is in stark contrast to other recent polling which show even greater gains. A May poll by the Glengariff Group showed 56.8% support marriage equality, up from 44.3% just a year before, a gain of over 12 percentage points in just one year.
EPIC-MRA showed a similar result with 56% of respondents supporting marriage equality.
When you’re off by 15 points, something is clearly very wrong with your polling.
The crosstabs from this most recent poll show that 90% of the respondents that the polling firm Dennis Research contacted had landlines. Polling using 90% landlines is a terrific way of making sure that your respondents are older. Indeed, in this poll, over half of the respondents were over 50 and more than a quarter were over 65.
The respondents were also heavily skewed to the west side of the state which is far more conservative than the rest of Michigan. 22.5% came from the west side while southeast and mid-Michigan respondents made up a paltry 19.5% of the respondents. These areas, which include Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Detroit, are far more liberal than the west side that is so over-represented in this poll.
It’s worth noting that this poll was conducted the same group that had Barack Obama up by only three and half points in Michigan just a couple of weeks before an election where he won by double digits.
The entire exercise seems to have been done so that Lambert, Edwards, & Associates could run a headline that declares that “Half of Michigan Voters Express Opposition To Changing State’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage” and so that owner Jeff Lambert could make this statement:
“The numbers from this poll indicate that support for same-sex marriage in Michigan needs to be stronger if advocates hope to win a ballot initiative for legalization,” said Jeff Lambert, president and managing partner at Lambert, Edwards & Associates. “Same-sex marriage is gaining supporters nationally, but advocates here can’t assume a majority of Michigan voters feel the same.”
Anyone looking at polling trends in Michigan would be compelled to disagree with Lambert on this. When two other recent polls from legitimate polling firms show support of marriage equality well over 50%, I think we CAN safely assume a majority of Michigan voters are in line with the national trends and are in support of allowing same-sex couples to marry and enjoy the many additional rights afforded to heterosexual couples. (According to one analysis, for example, there are 1,138 federal benefits alone that are denied to same-sex couples who are not allowed to marry. Other studies put that number even higher.)
I spoke with Emily Dievendorf, Managing Director of Equality Michigan, about this recent poll. Equality Michigan is gearing up to repeal Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2016 and in my interview with her a couple of months ago, Dievendorf said she wants to “see some more polling, more consistent polling” on the issue in advance of that effort. Regarding this latest Lambert, Edwards, & Associates poll, she had this to say:
Polling accuracy matters and this poll’s demographics are too old and too Republican to give us a clear picture of how Michigan citizens will vote on these important issues. This Republican PR firm’s numbers are dated, rely too heavily on landlines and select demographics resulting in numbers skewed to showcase the views of an older and more conservative demographic.
Those polled don’t represent the positions of the average Michigander on these issues and don’t reflect the percentage breakdown of which voters would cast their ballots on an Election Day.
I’m happy to say that even this poll’s numbers show a clear shift in public opinion on fairness and equality since 2004.
It just goes to show you how freaked out the anti-LGBT forces in Michigan are that they are trying convince Michiganders that marriage equality isn’t enjoying the same surge in public opinion that we’re seeing all over the country. There isn’t a day that goes lately when you don’t hear Gary Glenn, President of the American Family Association of Michigan, on television or the radio petulantly declaring Michigan is just as homophobic as he is.
Given the data that is accumulating, Glenn is clearly out of touch with the mainstream in Michigan. While the rest of the world is evolving, Glenn and his aging cohort are being left behind. I look forward to the day when his odious constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is tossed into the rubbish bin of history and is seen as the homophobic, bigoted mistake that it was.
In the meantime, Lambert, Edwards, & Associates need to find a new gig. If they continue putting out polling results this questionable and out of step with everyone else, it’s clear they either don’t know what they are doing or that they are pushing an agenda rather than being impartial.