BY MARK DiCAMILLO and MERVIN FIELD
The Field Poll
The issue of same-sex marriage, which has long been in the forefront of social and political discussions in California, has become very salient this year.
In May the California Supreme Court struck down an existing state law enacted by voters in 2000 that limited marriage to unions only between a man and a woman. Since the High Court’s ruling, many gay and lesbian couples both within the state and around the country have taken their vows and become officially married in California.
In June groups opposed to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage qualified a constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, for the November ballot, which if approved would again provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
In a statewide survey completed this week among 672 likely voters, The Field Poll finds that if the election were being held now, more voters say they would vote No (51%) on Prop. 8 than would vote Yes (42%).
Initial awareness and vote predispositions
There is relatively high voter awareness of Proposition 8 among the state’s voting electorate. Statewide 62% of likely voters report having seen or heard something about the proposed constitutional amendment.
When all voters regardless of any prior awareness are read Prop. 8′s official ballot description, 51% say they would vote No, while 42% would vote Yes.
Democratic and Republican voter sentiments are poles apart on this issue. Sixty-three percent of Democrats intend to vote No, while 68% of Republicans are ready to vote Yes. Non-partisans are overwhelmingly on the No side – 66% to 27%.
There are also big differences in voting preferences by region. Voters living in California’s coastal counties, which represents 69% of all likely voters, oppose Prop. 8 56% to 37%. Opinions are almost reversed among Californians living in inland counties, where supporters outnumber opponents 54% to 40%.
The strongest opposition to Prop. 8 is found in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, where voters oppose Prop. 8 by a two and one-half to one margin (67% to 26%). They are joined by voters in Los Angeles County who are also on the No side, 51% to 41%.
By contrast, voters in the Central Valley and in other parts of Northern California outside of the Bay Area are opposed on the order of five to four. In Southern California areas outside Los Angeles County, preferences are more evenly split (50% No and 45% Yes).
Women voters are lining up on the No side of Prop. 8 to a greater extent than men – 54% No and 40% Yes among women vs. 49% No and 45% Yes among men.
By age, opposition to Prop. 8 is greatest among younger voters under age 30, as well as among “baby boomers” in the 50 – 64 age bracket. Voters in other age groups are more evenly divided.
White non-Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians are lining up on the No side by five to four margins. This contrasts with the voting preferences of Latinos, who are supporting Prop. 8 five to four.
There are also big differences by religion. Protestants favor Prop. 8 56% to 40%, while Catholics are evenly divided. By contrast, voters affiliated with other religions or who have no religious preference are opposing Prop. 8 by wide margins.
Evangelical Christians favor the amendment better than two to one, 66% to 31%. However, non-evangelicals are on the No side 59% to 34%.
There is greater opposition to Prop. 8 among voters who personally know or work with gays or lesbians. This group, which includes nearly three in four voters statewide, opposes Prop. 8 54% to 40%. On the other hand, those who have no personal familiarity with gays or lesbians favor the amendment by a narrow margin.
See Related: MARRIAGE EQUALITY
See Related: McCAIN TIPTOES AROUND GAY ADOPTION
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