Thursday, June 30, 2011

Drake Study Shows Iowans Approve Of Marriage Equality Law 61%-34%

     Yesterday, Drake University released a study of Iowa voters regarding the States marriage equality law, and public perception of same-sex marriages. To many equality advocates in Iowa, as well as the rest of the country, the results are quite encouraging - 61% of Iowans say that they are in favor of marriage equality, with only 34% expressing disapproval. Some, such as Truth Wins Out's Evan Hurst, are lauding this poll as indicative of a wider trend - that when marriage equality exists in a state, that state's population slowly embraces it because they realize that the "sky didn't fall". Though I agree with this sentiment, I feel that our excitement over this survey is a little premature. 

      This survey was developed by Drake Universities Master of Public Administration Program  students as part of their capstone project for graduation. According to the methodology of the survey, 
Researchers used a quantitative, 54-question, web-based survey developed and distributed in Survey Monkey®.  The survey was primarily quantitative, with six ‘other’ open-ended response fields and two ‘comments’ fields.  An initial pilot of the survey was conducted with approximately 25 respondents.  The survey was adjusted and questions finalized.  The survey link was distributed using various social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter, web pages, and e-mail.  In an effort to balance conservative, liberal and independent responses, researchers requested distribution of the survey link to several special interest groups on both sides of the issue. The survey was open to the public for 12 days.  A total of 2,217 attempts to complete the survey were received in that 12-day period.
      Pause for a bit and read that again. This survey was conducted over the internet using Survey Monkey. Though online surveying is a legitimate form of surveying, and is in fact overtaking phone surveys in frequency, there are still a few issues with such surveys. First, these surveys trend younger, as those who are elderly are not likely to own a computer and/or have internet access, and Second, respondents are self selected, rather than truly random. Though the researchers attempted to remedy the first issue, and it looks like they  successfully did so, the second issue still remains.

     Surveys are only valid representations of public attitudes when conducted randomly. But when it came to this survey, the respondents were made aware of the survey - whether it be on facebook, twitter, or email -   and decided themselves whether they wanted to complete it, based upon knowledge of what the survey was about. This can be seen in the results of the demographics - particularly the sexual orientation category. 11.4% of respondents indicated that their sexual orientation was non-heterosexual. Compare this with the accepted average of LGB people in the U.S. - that being between 3% - 5%.

      In the end, though this survey is cause for excitement; I would give great pause before trusting its validity. In the end, we must use surveys like this as encouragement, that as we continue our fight for full equality, the rest of society is coming along.

1 comment:

  1. Gay Inc. in California saw the poll results that people here supported gay marriage so they sat on their hands and played defense during prop 8. I tried numerous times to volunteer, both calling and showing up at places and no one showed up or responded. Finally I made a sign and stood on a corner by myself. By the time they realized our marriage equality was at risk, it was too late to turn the tide of lies.

    You're right that this poll is good news but it needs to go with an * that we can't let up.


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