Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
A new Field Poll shows that 42 percent of California voters say they will vote for Proposition 8, the ballot initiative sponsored by the national anti-gay lobby that would amend the California Constitution to revoke the right of gay people to marry, while 51 percent say they plan to vote against it, according to a report in the Mercury News:
"Very few initiatives in the history of the Field Poll have started out behind and come from behind to be approved," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. "The fact that (the initiative) is behind does not bode well for its chances."
Mercury News also reports that "[women], older baby boomers and residents of coastal California --- particularly the Bay Area --- were among those most hostile to the proposed ban. Protestants, Latinos, residents of inland counties and people in their 40s and over age 65 were the most likely to favor it."
At least one professional advocate of bigotry toward gays was quick to downplay the poll results. "Historically, the Field Poll has understated the support for upholding the definition of marriage," Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for ProtectMarriage.com, told the Mecurty News. "The reality is that the vast majority of Californians support the definition of marriage as between a man and woman."
One factor that may help quash Prop 8 is the fervor in California to elected a Democratic president this year. Yesterday, a Field Poll found that Barack Obama leads John McCain in California 54 to 30 percent. Obama also holds a 46 point lead over McCain (64 percent to 18 percent) among independents, the fastest growing voter group in the state.
McCain --- whose authority on "protecting marriage" should be tarnished because he left his first wife Carol to marry an heiress worth $100 million after Carol became disabled in an accident --- has come out in favor of Prop 8. But unless his poll numbers improve exponentially, it is unlikely he will spend much time in California campaigning for the initiative. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has announced that he is against the amendment.
The state Republican Party is in such a shambles that it is likely to be of little, if any, help promoting Prop 8. Other than Schwarzenegger, there are no Republican political figures in the state who have the name recognition, much less the clout or credibility, to influence independent or Democratic voters' attitudes on the initiative. Donations to the state GOP have all but dried up, leaving it virtually insolvent and unable to help candidates for Congress and the Legislature pay for advertising.
Without a well-known spokesperson or funding from the state GOP, proponents of Pro 8 have no other choice but to look outside the state to raise millions of dollars with which to buy television time in California, which has some of the costliest advertising markets in the nation.
The spin from Prop 8's supporters implies that it is a product of homegrown hatred of gays, but records indicate that the planning and petitioning were largely funded by the national homophobia lobby which has ties to the national Republican Party. Out-of-state groups paid over $1 million to signature gatherers to collect the petitions required to get the initiative on the ballot.
Early in the primary season, the national Republican Party had hoped that having Prop 8 on the ballot would drum up votes for the Republican nominee in November, but with John McCain's chances looking increasingly grim in the state and polling for the initiative lagging, the national GOP is unlikely to waste another penny in California.
That leaves it up to the fatcats in the national homophobia lobby --- which raises hundreds of millions of tax-free dollars every year --- to cough up millions for advertising for Prop 8, or risk being blamed for the latest humiliating defeat of rightwing causes in the Golden State.