Equality Matters

Debunking NOM’s Latest Poll On Same-Sex Marriage In New York

June 22, 2011 3:59 pm ET - by Carlos Maza

On Tuesday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) released a poll finding that 57 percent of New Yorkers oppose marriage equality, with only 32 percent in favor. NOM President Brian Brown used the poll to push the (patently false) claim that Senate Republicans who support marriage equality will suffer political consequences as a result:

For the Republicans to use their newfound control to pass a measure with such weak public support in order to help Andrew Cuomo run for president of the United States is not only wrong but a colossal blunder. To sell your principles to get elected is always wrong. To sell your principles to get the other guy elected is just plain dumb.

NY State Senator Ruben Diaz, who claims to still be a Democrat, is using the poll to warn on-the-fence Senate Republicans that they will pay “the biggest price” if New York legalizes same-sex marriage.

A number of independent polls have sharply contradicted NOM’s results:

NOM is asking us to believe that support for marriage equality is twenty-five percentage points lower than all three of these polls have previously found.

It’s no surprise that the poll has been ignored by every respectable mainstream media outlet.

The methodological problems with NOM’s poll are painfully obvious.

1. Sample Size: NOM’s poll surveyed a mere 302 registered voters, significantly less than any of the other polls on this issue. Siena’s poll surveyed 777 New Yorkers, while the January 27 and June 2 Quinnipiac polls surveyed 1,436 and 1,257 respondents, respectively. With such a tiny sample size, it’s not surprise that NOM’s poll is such an extreme outlier.

2. Sample Demographic: NOM’s sample size is not representative of New York’s general voting population. The poll respondents were older, more likely to be married, and more likely to be conservative than the general New York public and those New Yorkers who voted in 2010.

3. Conservative Polling Firm: QEV, the pollster that conducted NOM’s survey, is closely tied to the Republican Party. David Badash at the New Civil Rights Movements broke down QEV’s partisan credentials on Tuesday:

QEV’s own marketing states, “The soul of our work is the utilization of public opinion data to craft an actionable communications strategy which achieves your public relations or legislative goals. This is why the collection of opinion data is where our work begins — not where it ends.”

Additionally, QEV states that its president, Steven Wagner, “conducted much of the research behind the GOP ‘Contract with America’ during the 1994 campaign,” and adds that Wagner, “was the Political Director of the National Republican Institute for International Affairs, the Republican Party’s international office.” Further, QEV’s [marketing] states, “Mr. Wagner has also served on the Republican leadership staff of the U.S. House of Representatives. He has served in senior positions in numerous campaigns for federal office, including two Presidential campaigns.”

This isn’t the first time NOM has relied on a biased pollster to come up with the poll results it’s looking for. Earlier this year, the group relied on long-time Republican consultant Dr. Gary C. Lawrence to come up with a poll showing a majority of Maryland voters oppose marriage equality.

4. Question Wording: NOM’s poll asked respondents if they “agree or disagree that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.” Unlike the Quinnipiac and Siena polls, NOM’s poll doesn’t mention “same-sex couples,” nor does it ask if these couples should be “legally” allowed to get married. By centering polling questions on the definition of marriage, anti-gay groups have been able to artificially inflate opposition to marriage equality. 

It’s no surprise NOM has resorted to cooking up ridiculous poll numbers in New York. The organization has promised to vote out pro-equality Republicans, but their campaign of misinformation and fear-mongering has failed to change public opinion. This poll is just another desperate attempt to stop the country’s slow but steady move towards full marriage equality. 

Previously:

NOM Gloats About Victory In New York Before A Vote Is Even Scheduled

NOM Pushes Last Minute Adoption Distortions To Sway New York Marriage Vote

Memo To NY Republicans: Don’t Be Scared Of Supporting Marriage Equality

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