Yesterday, The Big E went over the results of the State Fair poll on the Anti-Family Amendment as it pertains to the task ahead.
Today, I will use the same poll to point out the uncertain nature of the outcome of that task and why organizing will be the key to winning.
First, though, the results of the poll, conducted by the Minnesota House of Representatives, one more time.
“Should the state constitution be amended to define marriage as “only a union of one man and one woman?” This question will be on the November 2012 ballot.”
What you see is that unlike with normal polls, this poll has no margin of error (but it has insignificant digits!). That’s because it’s actually not a poll at all, it’s a straw poll.
There are two key differentiating factors between the State Fair poll and a poll from, say, Gallup; the nature of the sample and weighting.
At the State Fair anybody can just walk up and take the poll. In a traditional survey every effort is made to get as random a sample as possible. And by random I mean everyone who makes up the sample frame should theoretically have as equal a chance of being a respondent as anyone else.
Additionally, even though you go to every effort to get as random a sample as possible, the final result is often a little different from the actual demographics of the sample frame. To alleviate this, pollsters will weight their samples based on immutable characteristics like age, gender and race. The State Fair poll doesn’t do any of these things.
So, the State Fair (straw) poll violates two of the most fundamental aspects of traditional public opinion polling, but just because it’s a completely unscientific survey doesn’t mean we can’t do a little bit of analysis right?
Let’s take a look at another question from the State Fair survey:
“Should voters be required to show a current, government-issued picture ID before casting their ballot?”
Undecided/No Opinion 2.8%
Now let’s look at similar questions from the last time SurveyUSA polled the state back in May:
KSTP (SurveyUSA) (5/25):
“If an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution were on the ballot, that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, would you vote…”
For the amendment 51
Against the amendment 40
Not vote on the measure 8
Not sure 2
“If an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution were on the ballot, that requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls, would you vote…”
For the amendment 76
Against the amendment 18
Not vote on the measure 4
Not sure 1
In the SurveyUSA poll the marriage amendment was at +11 and voter ID was at +58(!), a 47 point spread. In the state fair poll they were at -37 and +5, a 42 point spread.
That’s pretty close, meaning Minnesotan’s opinions on both issues likely haven’t changed much at all since May and if the State Fair poll would have done some simple weighting based on; age, gender and race they could have produced a poll with some really valuable results.
But as it is the most we can glean from it is that things probably haven’t changed much and that means it’s really close and will likely remain so until election day.
In the introduction to this post I said that I would:
point out the uncertain nature of the outcome of that task and why organizing will be the key to winning.
Well, I did the first part above, so this part relates to that second, more important bit.
What is clear from the results of the State Fair poll is that people against the amendment came out in droves to vote against it. As E-dog pointed out in his post, both sides tried to whip votes and one side simply trounced the other.
That is how we will win on this issue in November, by organizing better then they do.
For those who want to help, please volunteer at: