Marriage Referendum Leads 52% to 43% Among Likely California Voters

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Many “no voters” could change votes based on possible effects of 8’s failure


A new poll of California voters shows Proposition 8, a proposed constitutional amendment that would reserve marriage for opposite-sex couples, has a 9 percentage point lead among likely voters, 52% to 43%. The poll was conducted for the Knights of Columbus by the Marist College Institute of Public Opinion between September 28 and October 5, 2008.

The survey shows that Proposition 8 has majority support among men (53%), women (51%), whites (51%), Latinos (57%), those who are married (59%) and those age 45 and older (59%). Those opposed include likely voters under age 45 (54% opposed) and those who are not married (54% opposed).

The poll also shows that Proposition 8 leads in every region of California except the Bay Area, where 58% are opposed.

52% of likely California voters believe the state Supreme Court was wrong to have overturned the 2000 referendum in which voters approved reserving marriage for opposite-sex couples, and 72% believe the decision should be left to the voters.

Poll respondents were presented with several arguments and asked whether each one would make them more or less likely to vote for Proposition 8. A majority (58%) were more likely to favor Proposition 8 when reminded that if it passes, same-sex couples will still be able to form civil unions in California. More than half of those describing themselves as opponents of Proposition 8 said they were more likely to shift from opposing to favoring the referendum because of this argument. Approximately one third of those voting “no” on 8 – and a significant number of undecided voters – would be more likely to vote yes if the proposition’s failure could compromise the tax status of religious schools or if children in public schools would be taught that marriage was a relationship “between any two adults.”

Nearly half (49%) of likely voters believe that same-sex marriage should not be law if legalizing it would place clergy at risk for lawsuits or threatens the tax-exempt status of religious institutions. And 79% of all likely voters believe that if Proposition 8 fails, clergy should not be required to perform same-sex marriages if it violates their religious convictions.

Poll Appendix