According to a new study of Prop. 8 , Exit Polls on African-American Support of Prop. 8 Were Wrong
A new study on California’s Proposition 8 voting trends released Tuesday found that far fewer African-Americans voted to pass the gay marriage ban than the 70% suggested by exit polling and concluded that race was not the most significant factor affecting people’s vote for or against marriage equality.
After conducting in-depth analysis of election returns from five key California counties and using census data to estimate the racial makeup of the voters in those counties, researchers found that between 57% and 59% of African-Americans voted in favor of Proposition 8, which amended the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.
The new study, conducted by political scientists Ken Sherrill of CUNY-Hunter College and Patrick Egan of NYU, suggests that other factors than race played a larger role in a voter's stance on the measure, such as party identification, ideology, age and religious inclinations. These factors also dwarfed gender and personal knowledge of gays and lesbians.
The study found that these four factors — party identification, ideology, frequency of religious service attendance and age — drove the “yes” vote for Proposition 8. For example, more than 70 percent of voters who were Republican, identified themselves as conservative, or who attended religious services at least weekly supported Proposition 8. Conversely, 70 percent or more of voters who were Democrat, identified themselves as liberal, or who rarely attended religious services opposed the measure. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of voters 65 or older supported Proposition 8, while majorities under 65 opposed it.
Since the passage of Proposition 8, much has been said about the supposed dramatic opposition to marriage equality among African Americans, fueled by National Election Pool (NEP) figures based on sampling in only a few precincts that erroneously indicated 70 percent of California’s African Americans supported Proposition 8. The study found that when religious service attendance was factored out, however, there was no significant difference between African Americans and other groups.
In other words, people of all races and ethnicities who worship at least once a week overwhelmingly supported Proposition 8, with support among white, Asian and Latino frequent churchgoers actually being greater than among African Americans.
the study found that the level of support for Proposition 8 among African Americans was nowhere close to the NEP exit poll 70 percent figure. The study looked at pre- and post-election polls and conducted a sophisticated analysis of precinct-level voting data from five California counties with the highest African-American populations (Alameda (Oakland), Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco).* Based on this, it concludes that the level of African-American support for Proposition 8 was in the range of 57-59 percent. Its precinct-level analysis also found that many precincts with few black voters supported Proposition 8 at levels just as high or higher than those with many black voters.
The study found that overall support for marriage equality has increased by 9 percent since 2000, with support increasing among every age group under age 65, across all racial and ethnic groups and among Protestants, Catholics and Jews. There are three “holdout” groups where voting patterns have not changed: Republicans, conservatives, and those 65 and older. The largest gain — up 16 percent — was among voters 45-64 years of age, followed by a 13 percent increase among voters 18-29.
Among Republicans, support for the freedom to marry fell slightly (1 percent) compared to 2000. Support for marriage equality among Democrats, on the other hand, increased 13 percent.
See National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Press Release
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