2010 or 2012 for same-sex marriage measure?

A new poll finds support for same-sex marriage in California evenly split, and finds a ballot measure to overturn Proposition 8’s constitution ban would have a slight advantage in 2012 over 2010.

When asked, “Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose allowing same-sex couples to be legally married,” 47 percent say favor and 48 percent say oppose, according to the poll commissioned by a coalition of pro-same-sex-marriage groups. Support for any given ballot measure depends on the specific language of that measure, the survey found; for example, results show support increases if the language specifically includes a provision that says no clergy will be required to perform a service that goes against their faith.

Modeling turnout scenarios for 2010 and 2012 show a small advantage for same-sex marriage supporters in a 2012 electorate, based on a considerably higher turnout expected in 2012 due to the Presidential election. But the survey notes the added voters drawn to a presidential vote are divided in their views on same-sex marriage: younger voters tend to support it, but older white, black and Latino religious voters would somewhat cancel them out. Overall, the survey projects same-sex marriage supporters would have a 1- to 2-percentage point advantage in 2012 over 2010.

Of course, that also could be influenced by other ballot measures that could affect 2010’s voter turnout and composition, as well as by top-of-the-ticket concerns: The Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2010 is likely to be a same-sex marriage advocate, while it’s unclear what stance President Barack Obama would take during his presumed 2012 re-election campaign.

The poll, conducted by Goodwin Simon Victoria Research and David Binder Research, surveyed 1,794 California voters – 1,000 randomly selected voters who took part in last November’s election or have registered since then, plus oversamples with blacks, Latinos, Asian/Pacific Islanders and union members – between May 8 and May 15. Coalition members said they chose to do the survey before the Supreme Court issued its May 26 ruling to uphold Proposition 8 so that the results would reflect a “resting pulse” of the electorate, free of emotions riled by the ruling.

More on what it means to the same-sex marriage advocates, after the jump…

The Courage Campaign last week had said 82.5 percent of its members would rather put a measure to overturn Proposition 8 on the ballot next year instead of in 2012. “We’re a grassroots movement and we’re responsive to our membership,” Courage Campaign organizer Mike Bonin said today, but “any campaign that happens needs to be done by a broad-based coalition that is widely representative of the community – we’re certainly not going to go solo.”

The coalition is undertaking a “Get Engaged Tour,” bringing these poll results and other information to 80 California cities in the coming weeks to gauge grassroots support. Marriage Equality USA spokeswoman Molly McKay said this denotes “an unprecedented commitment from all of the supporting organizations… to work in collaboration with one another and to really listen to the community,” and when it’s done, “I think we’ll see an emerging consensus” on the best time to make the ballot-measure campaign. Lester Aponte of Honor PAC said he believes the consensus will be for 2010, and his and certain other organizations are prepared to start gathering petition signatures this September if that’s the will of the masses.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.