Headlines Polls Apart

  Reading polls can be like reading tea leaves.  Take Mason-Dixon’s survey on Florida’s Amendment 2– the measure that would define marriage as “the legal union between only one man and one woman as husband and wife”.  Mason-Dixon’s result– 55% of voters responding supported the amendment, 34% were opposed, 11% undecided. 

  Since Constitutional amendments require 60% to win passage, this result proved tough to parse in the morning headlines. 

  The Herald: “Florida Gay-Marriage Ban Draws Wide Support in Poll”

  The Pensacola News-Journal: “Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Not Dead”

  Tampa Tribune: “‘Marriage-Protection’ Faltering, According to Poll”

  Orlando Sentinel: “Florida Voters Leaning Toward Ban on Gay Marriage, Poll Shows”

  Tallahassee Democrat: “Undecideds Hold Fate of Amendment 2”

  Well, so much for monolithic media.

  The take of Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker, for the record, is that his result boded well for Amendment 2.  Coker says, in other states, undecided voters have tended to break toward what he terms the “politically incorrect/anti-gay” viewpoint.

  That characterization would have driven Eladio Armesto up a wall.  Armesto, who publishes a community newspaper in Miami, has long been involved in conservative Christian causes.  After I interviewed him about Amendment 2, he told me I should not be using the word gay to describe homosexuals– that polling shows that issues involving homosexuals are 10-15% more popular if they’re described a “gay” rather than “homosexual”.

  Armesto also bristled at the description of Amendment 2 as a “gay marriage ban”, pointing out that a “one man, one woman” definition of marriage also rules out bigamy, polygamy, and bestiality.

  So, headline-writers and others– choose your words carefully.

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