According to a fresh Elway Poll by independent pollster Stuart Elway, the measure currently has a slim lead statewide — 46 percent to approve the law and 41 percent to reject it. Elway, who has been tracking public opinion on gay-rights issues for years, reports considerable confusion about what an affirmative or negative vote means on R-71. Grabber quote: “Overall, 10 percent of voters surveyed were planning to vote the opposite of their intention,” hurting supporters of the law slightly more than opponents.
Indeed, more people told Elway they support the “everything but marriage” law than told him they supported Referendum 71. Elway notes in an aside that his polling shows much stronger support for equal rights and domestic partnerships than for full-out gay marriage. “The term ‘marriage’ still may be the defining line in the public debate,” he says, adding “Nicknaming Washington’s new law ‘everything but marriage’ may test how close to that line voters are willing to go, even in a blue state like Washington.”
Elway’s crosstabs are interesting: self-identified Democrats heavily support the new law, SB5688, with a 64 percent affirmative vote, while 71 percent of the Republicans oppose it. Independents, representing 46 percent of the sample, leaned in favor of the law 45-37. Women heavily favored the law and a plurality of the men opposed it. Voters 36 to 64 backed the measure, and those younger and older were more divided. Weekly churchgoers and those who “typically agree with Christian conservations” were inclined to reject the law. Elway said his sample of most-likely voters were inclined, 48-40, to support R-71, which he called significant in a low-turnout election year.
Footnote: Given Elway’s finding on voter-confusion, we want to add yet again this explainer: If you support expanded rights for domestic partners, as adopted by the Legislative and signed by the governor, you should vote to “approve” the legislation. Currently on hold for the election, it would extend to state-registered domestic partners the full array of rights and responsibilities that married couple enjoy. Want to roll back the law? You should vote to “reject” it. Yes, opponents of the law are the sponsors of the referendum, but they’re looking for a “reject” vote.