Friday, August 6, 2010

The Prop8 report: how we lost the election (video)

Regardless of the decision in federal court, our movement continues to suffer at the ballot box. At some level, until we achieve the voters' support, the criticism of "activist judges" and "ignoring the will of the people" will be used against us.

Right now, support for marriage equality in California is around 51%. That sounds terrific, until you remember that it was also at 51% six months before Prop8 passed. So we are back where we started.

So how did we lose the election? A new report examines what happened to shift our narrow victory to a sound defeat. Dave Fleischer, the author has an oped in the LA Times summarizing his findings.
The executive summary has the précis.

Notably, we were outplayed by the bad guys. As we all know by now, we didn't lose the African-American religious community--we never had them to lose. We lost the white soccer Moms who were terrorized by propaganda that their kindergarteners were going to be taught how to have gay sex if Adam wed Steve. Those were the biggest reasons for the loss, along with mis-management by the No-on-8 people, and a terror of mentioning the word "gay".

THe Advocate details what this means:
[P]arents with children under 18 living at home played a potentially decisive role in the passage of Prop. 8, constituting more than three quarters of nearly 700,000 voters, most of them white Democrats, who switched sides in the most heated days of the campaign and voted to oppose same-sex marriage. Given that Prop. 8 passed by 52% to 48%, or a margin of nearly 600,000 votes, parents and like-minded voters could have swung the contest at the last minute, the report suggests.

The report doesn't pull any punches in pointing out that we were (in Prop8) and continue to be (e.g., in Maine's Question 1) outplayed by totally predictable campaign strategies of the opposition. I think many of us found the Maine campaign depressing, because the anti-equality side ran exactly the same ads as they ran in California (literally the same, in many cases ) and STILL our side hadn't figured out how to respond.

Unless and until we can spike the guns of this argument, and respond forcefully (or better, pre-empt it) we will continue to lose people in the middle who SHOULD be our supporters. And that 51% "support" will continue to be too soft to count on.


JCF said...

A disturbing factoid out of this report, is that if you poll for the percentage that intended to ban SSM, the actual percentage was 54% [i.e., an additional 2% voted "No" on Prop8, intending "No SSM". Somehow, I bet everyone in FAVOR of SSM, voted No on 8! (it goes w/o saying, our voters are, on average, more intelligent)]

Seriously, if we have to win this at the ballot box? If we don't have polls, the day before the election, saying *60%* support SSM, fuhgeddaboutit! (Sigh)

IT said...

Yes, JCF, that's also a concern. Although one would think the polls are a little less ambiguous.