GOOD NEWS FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY…. I know Kevin has been following the California same-sex marriage issue after the state Supreme Court tossed out Prop. 22. He’s been gaming out scenarios for public support, and now we have enough data from early polling to get a real understanding of where we’re at, 5 months out from a likely vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The LA Times poll from last week showed an electorate that supports, by anywhere from 55%-59%, the concept of a loving relationship between two people of the same gender, finding it not morally wrong. However, they also supported the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage by a count of 52%-35%.

But today’s Field Poll, still considered the best pollster in the state despite some misses of late, finds that Californians both support the concept of gay marriage AND oppose the constitutional amendment.

By 51 to 42 percent, state voters believe gay couples have the right to marry, according to a May 17-26 poll of 1,052 registered voters […]

In another Field Poll two years ago, state voters opposed gay marriage, 51 to 43 percent. DiCamillo said the recent shift may reflect both the presence of newer voters and a reaction to the state high court ruling.

“We had this historic ruling of the state Supreme Court, and people may have been persuaded,” DiCamillo said. “We do see a shift. It looks like something happened to affect opinion.”

The Field Poll asked two groups of voters differently worded questions on whether they would support a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Voters asked about “barring marriage between gay and lesbian couples” opposed a constitutional ban, 54 to 40 percent. Voters asked whether they favored or opposed “having the state constitution prohibit same-sex marriage,” also opposed the ban, 51 to 43 percent.

The poll’s findings, which track with the LA Times poll, show that this is a regional issue and a generational issue. The Central Valley, the most conservative part of the state, opposes gay marriage pretty strongly, while the coasts support it. And there’s a large shift in support between those under 45 and over 45; in the Field poll, 68 PERCENT of voters between 18-29 favor same-sex marriage. So in the long-term, the people have made their decision. The question is whether enough voters in that bracket will come out on Election Day to cast a ballot. In addition, it seems like the biggest stumbling block for those who oppose gay marriage is the words “gay marriage”; they’re OK with the concept in theory, if they are to be believed, but just can’t get over the hump of seeing two men or two women as a married couple. So advocates working this campaign in the fall have to figure out how to create a way to make the swing voters more comfortable with voting on a conceptual and intellectual level rather than a visceral one. Overall, however, this looks very good for the marriage equality side.

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