Competing signs in marriage amendment debate
MINNEAPOLIS - A new opinion poll has buoyed the spirits of marriage amendment backers, but the opposing campaign sees little evidence of a major momentum swing in Minnesota.
The Survey USA - KSTP poll, conducted between July 17 and July 19, asked 552 voters it they plan to vote for the amendment, which will change to State Constitution to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman.
In all 52 percent of the voters said they will vote for the amendment, while 37 percent said they intend to vote against it. Six percent said they hadn't made up their minds, while five percent said they wouldn't vote on that ballot question.
By contrast, a sampling of 973 voters, conducted by Public Policy Polling in early June showed supporters of the amendment trailing opponents by a 48 to 44 percent margin.
Supporters assert the most recent poll is an accurate snapshot of voter sentiment.
"The bottom line is the voters are with us on this," Chuck Darrell, communications director for Minnesotans for Marriage, told KARE.
"They understand that marriage is between a man and a woman and they want to protect it in our constitution."
But the campaign manager for the group opposing the amendment said he hasn't seen those poll results borne out at the grassroots level.
"This poll is an outlier," Richard Carlbom, of Minnesotan United for All Families, told KARE.
"It doesn't reflect any reality we see on the ground. We have over 200,000 volunteers engaged on this campaign."
A steady stream of people dropped by the group's St. Paul headquarters Tuesday, after word surfaced that the campaign had received a new shipment of "Vote No" lawn signs.
"All throughout this state we're holding small and large events where we expect 75 to show up, and 150 come in the door," Carlbom said.
He said the group is still confident that Minnesota will buck the trend and defeat the amendment, which has already passed in some form in 31 other states.
Pollster Bill Morris, who runs Decision Resources in Minneapolis, said it's unlikely opinion would change so dramatically in only six weeks.
"I've been doing statewide polling on the marriage issue for more than four years, dating back to Michele Bachmann's national marriage amendment bill," Morris said.
"The most fluctuation I've seen is in the five to six percentage point range, but not 15 points, and not in this short of a time span."
He said this particular ballot issue is much tougher to predict than match-ups between candidates.
"There are a lot of factors at play, and some people tend to give what they believe is the politically correct answer. The question is whether they'll make the same choice in the privacy of the voting booth."
There was something else that made the Survey USA - KSTP poll stand out, for those who study polling and the marriage amendment issue. Every previous poll has found a distinct age gap as well as a gender gap on the same-sex marriage question.
People in the 18 to 34-year-old rage, and women, are typically more likely to oppose the ban on gay marriage compared to all the voters in the sample combined. The Survey USA poll found support across the board in all age groups and both genders.
"So either amendment supporters made huge inroads with those groups, or the poll wasn't on target," Morris said.
Both sides said they'll keep battling to change voters' minds on the issue, and reel in the undecided, regardless of how the polling numbers move.
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