Archive | Polls

Democratic Panic? (II)

The Democratic Strategist (a website run by, you guessed it, Democratic strategists): “In recent days, as increasingly negative projections regarding the November election have appeared, a substantial number of Democrats have been seized with a genuine sense of panic.”

The article goes on to argue that such panic is unwarranted, as the recent polls merely reflect the movement of swing voters from the Democrats to the GOP, not a fundamental shift in political alliances by the great bulk of voters. [...]

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Democratic Panic?

Earlier today, I received a robocall from a DNC-affiliated pollster asking whether I plan to vote for the Republican or Democratic congressional candidate in my district, and also asking my opinion of Barack Obama’s performance as president. The rub is that I live in Arlington, Virginia, represented in Congress by Rep. Jim Moran. Moran won reelection with almost 70% of the vote in 2008, and his district is one of the few areas that voted Democrat in last year’s gubernatorial election.

Maybe the DNC had some other reason to want survey voters in my district, but if, as the call suggests, the Democrats are worried about whether Moran is vulnerable, panic must be really setting in. [...]

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Oops, Bad Choice of Polling Company

I tried using Survey Monkey for my two polls below, given the weird formatting issues I’ve been having with Pollhost, but I didn’t realize that the software puts very strict limits on how the free software is used (it only registers 100 responses per poll, and charges $200 per year if I want to use unlimited responses). That’s pretty useless for my purposes (or very expensive). So I am suspending the polls, and instead just posting the results of the first 100 responses. It’s not that revealing, given the low number of replies, but that’s the Internet for you.

First, conservatives had the following responses to why liberals have liberal views:

They lack the right values. 24%
They lack the right religious beliefs. 8.0%
They’re not as smart as conservatives. 8.0%
Liberals tend to engage in “groupthink.” 44%
They probably grew up around other liberals. 58%
Political issues are difficult, and liberal views are reasonable (even if I think they are wrong). 61%

Liberals had the following responses to why conservatives have conservative views:

They lack the right values. 19%
They have incorrect religious beliefs. 20%
They’re not as smart as liberals. 15%
Conservatives tend to engage in “groupthink.” 28%
They probably grew up around other conservatives. 63%
Political issues are difficult, and conservative views are reasonable (even if I think they are wrong).75%

For some reason, the only comments collected by the software were the comments by conservatives about liberals. These are of limited use without knowing the flip side of what liberals thought about conservatives, but here they are after the jump: [...]

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Explaining the Wide Range of Answers on When the Right to Same-Sex Marriage Was Created

In an earlier reader poll, I asked readers who believe that the Constitution requires states to recognize same-sex marriage to indicate when the Constitution began to require it. The results were fascinating: Readers disagreed widely as to the answer, with responses spread pretty evenly among the different centuries and periods of U.S. constitutional history. What, if anything, does that suggest?

My guess is that we’re picking up the very different strands of what readers think it means to interpret the Constitution. Some readers believe that the Constitution never changes: Only interpretations change, as humankind becomes more enlightened. To most of those readers, the operative date necessarily would be when the relevant Constitutional provision was ratified. Other readers think of constitutional interpretation as interpreting precedents, and look to when cases were handed down that establish the doctrinal case for same-sex marriage. To those readers, the key date would be when the most important precedents appeared. Still other readers see the Constitution as mirroring enlightened social attitudes (or what is thought to be enlightened attitudes, anyway). I gather they focus largely on when opposition to same-sex marriage began to appear irrational to enlightened people, which is only quite recently.

Those are my guesses, anyway. Actual mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. [...]

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Interesting Similarity Between Two VC Reader Polls

I had a sense of deja vu reading over the results of the VC reader poll on same-sex marriage. Here are the key results. First, as a matter of policy:

Favor same-sex marrriage: 61%
Oppose same-sex marriage: 33%
Don’t know: 6%

Second, as a matter of constitutional law:

Laws banning same-sex marriage are constitutional: 54%
Laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional: 39%
Don’t know: 9%

So VC readers who responded and who have an opinion on the topic think that a law banning same-sex marriage is a bad idea by about 2-1, but a slight majority thinks such laws are constitutional.

That rough breakdown reminded me of another VC reader poll on another big constitutional question, albeit on a totally different issue. Back in January 2008, I asked readers about their policy and constitutional views about a hypothetical law permitting the death penalty for child rape (in light of a then-pending Supreme Court case, Kennedy v. Louisiana). To be clear, obviously I’m not suggesting that there is any connection between gay marriage and either the death penalty or child rape. What’s interesting to me is the relative split in how VC readers approached their views of policy versus constitutional law. Here was how VC readers voted as a matter of policy:

Percent that opposed such a law: 62%
Percent that favored such a law: 38%

Notably, there was no “I don’t know” for this option. Here was the breakdown for whether such a law is constitutional:

Constitutional 54%
Unconstitutional: 20%
Not sure: 25%

While the results are not identical, some similarities exist. 2-1 thought such laws were a bad idea, while a slight majority thought they were constitutional. I wonder if that same policy/constitutional breakdown exists for other controversial issues involving legal challenges to laws that touch on the [...]

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An Interesting VC Reader Poll Result on Same-Sex Marriage

Among the interesting results of the VC readership polls on same-sex marriage, I was particularly intrigued by the answers to when the Constitution began to require gay marriage. This question was only supposed to be answered by those who believe that the Constitution presently requires state recognition of same-sex marriage. 526 readers responded so far.

On to the results. First, 24% of readers who responded believe that the Constitution began to require states to recognize same-sex marriage before or during the 1700s. I assume this crowd is mostly thinking that state recognition of same-sex marriage is a natural-law right, or perhaps just more generally that it goes back to the Founding era.

Next, 29% of readers who responded believe that the Constitution began to require states to recognize same-sex marriage in the 1800s. This was the most popular answer. The 14th Amendment went into effect in 1868; I gather that is the date most readers in this group have in mind. In contrast, only 3% of readers picked from 1900 to 1954 as the key date.

After that, 13% of readers who responded believe that the Constitution began to require states to recognize same-sex marriage in the Warren Court era from 1954-1969. I gather that many of the readers in this group are focused on Loving v. Virginia in 1965 as a key precedent. In contrast, only 6% of readers who responded thought that the Constitution began recognizing the right in the Burger Court years, from 1969 to 1986.

Moving on, 16% of readers who responded believe that the Constitution began to require states to recognize same-sex marriage in the Rehnquist Court era from 1986 to 2005. This period included Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas, and I would guess that most readers that picked this window [...]

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Reader Polls on Same-Sex Marriage

I wanted to do a few reader opinion polls on matters related to gay marriage. Of course, different readers will have different views of how useful these polls are. But I’m curious, so here goes. (Oh yeah, and sorry for the strange formatting: There’s some sort of incompatibility between our software and Pollhost’s, and right now I can’t figure out what it is.)

Let’s start with the basic question of whether readers favor or are against same-sex marriage as a matter of policy. For purposes of this first poll, assume that favoring same-sex civil unions but not same-sex marriage counts as not favoring same-sex marriage.

As a matter of policy, do you favor same-sex marriage?
I’m not sure.

Now let’s turn to a legal question, the constitutionality of not recognizing same-sex marriage:

Do you think it is constitutional for a state to prohibit same-sex marriage?
I don’t know.

Now let’s get a little more specific. If the standard of review is rational basis, is there a rational basis for opposing same-sex marriage?

Do you think there is a rational basis on which to oppose same-sex marriage?
I don’t know.


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